What would happen in the event that the technology that is so heavily relied upon by our modern military was to be compromised?
The military GPS (Global Positioning System) is just one of the technologies that are heavily relied upon for various critical U.S. military operations. This particular system is responsible for increasing the accuracy of weapons thus decreasing the military personnel and the number of warheads required to complete a mission or take down a target.
First introduced in the 1970s for exclusive military use, GPS has since expanded into commercial markets such that every new car now comes equipped with a built in GPS, with standalone GPS systems easily capable of being added to older model vehicles. While this makes constant innovation a possibility, it inevitably lowers the high standards that are often demanded when testing military technology.
Today, GPS military technology is so prevalent that DAQifi– at the forefront of revolutionizing data acquisition (DAQ) systems- contends that it is absolutely essential to American military functions- every military vehicle uses GPS, with at least 100 military defense systems heavily reliant on GPS as well: artillery shells, bombs, armored vehicles, ships, aircraft etc. Besides GPS based weapons systems, the Army also uses GPS units as location tracking and patrol tools for military service members in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Although the development of GPS is largely viewed in a positive light, there is always an underlying warning that is implicit in developing a technology-dependent military: what if such technology fails? Or what if it is rendered useless in the midst of combat? Either way, the vital operation and functioning of the U.S. military may become highly vulnerable.
Glitches in military GPS
In 2010, glitches in military GPS systems rendered as many as 10,000 military GPS receivers useless for days. This was seen a warning to increase protections for the technology dependent military. The glitches were associated with incomplete testing procedures and incompatible software, and highlighted the military’s reliance on GPS systems and the attendant need to urgently protect this technology that has become essential for targeting weapons, tracking vehicles, and protecting soldiers.
Although initially blamed on individual contractors who were thought to have installed defective software in military receivers, the glitch was later attributed to an overall system compatibility disconnect. The issue had flown under the radar as the new systems had not been tested before being rolled out.
Making GPS based weapons systems hacker-safe
Since the systems’ inception, missile and space systems have never been breached by enemies or hackers. However, this does not mean that the potential for breach does not exist. The Air Force is in the process of developing encrypted military receivers in order to boost protection against any potential hackers. Although occasional glitches call into question the military’s heavy reliance on this technology, the GPS system itself is highly guarded. The military GPS that controls the system is highly automated thus limiting the potential for human ability and/or human error to breach the system. Moreover, GPS satellites orbit about 12,000 miles above the planet, making them extremely safe from space warfare.