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​US Army Spc. Angel Mendoza, assigned as a space aggressor operator, secures a helical antenna to a gravel pad adjacent to the flight line during Red Flag-Alaska 16-3, at Eielson AFB, Alaska, on Aug. 8, 2016. Air Force photo by SSgt. Shawn Nickel.

​To prepare pilots for a future high-end conflict in which an adversary could deny use of space-based assets, the Air Force has integrated the Army’s first space aggressor unit into Red Flag-Alaska 16-3 to degrade GPS navigation. The Army unit teamed with the 527th Space Aggressors Squadron and the 26th SAS, its Reserve component, from Schreiver AFB, Colo., to disturb the GPS signals available to pilots on strike missions. Losing GPS in the air fight is like “getting punched in the jaw. Losing perspective and orientation can have a dizzying effect,” said Maj. Shauna Huber, the 26th SAS’ chief of mission support, according to the release. “Any GPS-guided weapon is disabled and finding the target becomes a massive challenge.” It is a condition pilots “are likely to experience in a combat situation,” Huber said, according to the release. The space aggressors used a vehicle with a helical antenna, two modems, and an amplifier to disrupt the signals from the multi-million-dollar GPS satellites. Army Spc. Angel Mendoza of the 4th Space Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, said working with the 527th SAS “is one of the only opportunities for hands-on space operations in the Army” according to the release. (See also: Relearning Old Skills.)