GPS M-Code gapfiller installed for trial run, Space Force eyes operational acceptance this fall

By Courtney Albon / August 7, 2020 at 11:46 AM

The Space Force announced this week it has completed a major upgrade to its GPS Military-Code signal that will improve anti-jamming and anti-spoofing capabilities for users.

The service completed the M-Code Early Use software and hardware upgrade on July 27 with installs at Schriever Air Force Base, CO, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, according to an Aug. 6 press release. The enhancement will run in a trial period until November when the program expects it to achieve operational acceptance.

Once accepted, the improved signal will support testing and fielding of the forthcoming Military Ground User Equipment upgrade. MGUE lead platform developmental field testing is scheduled to begin in 2020.

MCEU, which is being developed by Lockheed Martin, was designed as a gapfiller to provide early M-Code signals until full M-Code functionality is delivered through Next-Generation Operational Control Segment (OCX) blocks 1 and 2. Raytheon, the OCX prime contractor, expects to deliver those blocks in 2021.

The Space Force notes in the release that it is installing a new software-defined receiver, the M-Code Monitor Station Technology Improvement and Capability receiver, at six monitoring sites. The new receiver uses commercial off-the-shelf hardware and enables users to monitor M-Code signals.

The Space Force also announced Thursday that Lockheed delivered the fourth GPS III space vehicle to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, in mid-July. The satellite is slated to fly in September on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.