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The Boeing-built Global Positioning System IIF satellite.  Air Force graphic.

The Air Force is “aggressively” studying the potential threats to its space systems and is working on a range of ways to protect those crucial assets, including the precision navigation and strike capabilities provided by GPS, Air Force Space Command boss Gen. John Hyten said. “As we look at the next generation of satellites we’ll be building, we’re going to make sure that our satellites have more defensive capabilities and more resiliency than the ones we have today,” Hyten said during an April 28 Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington, D.C. Defenses will include the ability to maneuver to avoid a threat, for which the command will need better situational awareness and real-time command and control, he added. A key use of the $5 billion President Obama has offered in future years’ funding will be to enhance the current space command and control centers’ capabilities. Although Hyten predicted the US-provided GPS will remain “the gold standard” for precision navigation, timing, and strike, he said greater resiliency would be achieved by combining it with the European system Galileo and an emerging technology called the chip-scale atomic clock, which gives each user device precision timing all the time. “That’s going to be the fundamental game changer for the US military.”