A recent article on the UK Guardian Newspaper’s website is an alarm to our technological dependencies on GPS.
“It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption,” said the report, presented to Congress. “If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected.”
Pol-Speak for “it is breaking and we won’t get it fixed in time to keep it running 100%.”
Many of us have lost track of how many parts of our life are affected by GPS – new cars often have one or two GPS receivers on them (often the obligatory OnStar has its own GPS), many cellphones have GPS enabled, we have our TomToms & Amateur Radio ARPS systems.
GPS is part of tracking shipments, surveying our crops, measuring our construction efforts, flying our planes and has become integral in land navigation.
We had substitutes, but most are Direction Finding ranging from the simple ADF (Automatic (radio) Direction Finding), discontinued systems like the OMEGA Navigation System and comparative signal land based systems like LORAN rather than the precision system that the Global Positioning System (GPS) offers.
As radio amateurs we should make sure we have non-GPS dependent technologies to accomplish mission essential Emcomm/Freecom needs if GPS is unavailable.