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Skip to comments.Possible Shutdown of GPS Network in Crisis
Posted on 12/15/2004 7:05:42 PM PST by wagglebee
President Bush has ordered plans for temporarily disabling the U.S. network of global positioning satellites during a national crisis to prevent terrorists from using the navigational technology, the White House said Wednesday.
Any shutdown of the network inside the United States would come under only the most remarkable circumstances, said a Bush administration official who spoke to a small group of reporters at the White House on condition of anonymity.
The GPS system is vital to commercial aviation and marine shipping.
The president also instructed the Defense Department to develop plans to disable, in certain areas, an enemy's access to the U.S. navigational satellites and to similar systems operated by others. The European Union is developing a $4.8 billion program, called Galileo.
The military increasingly uses GPS technology to move troops across large areas and direct bombs and missiles. Any government-ordered shutdown or jamming of the GPS satellites would be done in ways to limit disruptions to navigation and related systems outside the affected area, the White House said.
"This is not something you would do lightly," said James A. Lewis, director of technology policy for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It's clearly a big deal. You have to give them credit for being so open about what they're going to do."
President Clinton abandoned the practice in May 2000 of deliberately degrading the accuracy of civilian navigation signals, a technique known as "selective availability."
The White House said it will not reinstate that practice, but said the president could decide to disable parts of the network for national security purposes.
The directives to the Defense Department and the Homeland Security Department were part of a space policy that Bush signed this month. It designates the GPS network as a critical infrastructure for the U.S. government. Part of the new policy is classified; other parts were disclosed Wednesday.
The White House said the policies were aimed at improving the stability and performance of the U.S. navigation system, which Bush pledged will continue to be made available for free.
The U.S. network is comprised of more than two dozen satellites that act as beacons, sending location-specific radio signals that are recognized by devices popular with motorists, hikers, pilots and sailors.
Bush also said the government will make the network signals more resistant to deliberate or inadvertent jamming.
That makes two.
Could turn up SA again but I wonder if today's military receivers can still handle that ?
MIL Space ping
Such firmware code would be very difficult for a terrorist to get around. He'd have to be able to re-write the GPS solution algorithm and/or hack the existing machine code. I know from what I do for a living that it would not be easy for anyone, even if they were trained in imbedded code.
SA was pretty useless anyway, because any number of differential systems would completly erase the advantage. Our diff system got sub-meter accuracy even with SA, and it was available across the whole US.
In the mean time, turning SA on would stop a whole bunch of GPS aircraft approaches that have just been announced.
I think that somebody could come up with a coding device that would allow NORAD to "seize control" of any aircraft that is suspect and auto-pilot the plane to the closest runway.
Actually, at the beginning of the Iraq bombing campaign in 91, back before the GPS constelation was complete, I understand they turned off the civilian signal. It wasn't available 24/7 back then, and few people used what they had.
It has always been that way. Since day one.
Do a little freakin' research for pete's sake.
The main purpose of GPS has always been military. Secondary importance is to support scientific experiments and to aid research. The "new" policy is as old as the first three GPS satellites put in orbit.