Sending a Signal
Shifting GPS assets will take about two years, but warfighters will begin to see improvements right away.
—Michael C. Sirak
Orlando, February 18, 2010—Troops in Afghanistan should expect to see immediate improvements in Global Positioning System signal coverage under the new two-year plan to reposition the GPS satellite constellation, says Gen. Robert Kehler, head of Air Force Space Command.
"To get the absolute maximum improvement will take us up to two years ... but the warfighters will see an improvement beginning now," said Kehler told reporters at AFA's Air Warfare Symposium.
AFSPC and US Strategic Command announced this plan, now dubbed "24 plus 3," in January.
The current GPS constellation has more than 30 satellites, 24 of which are considered active and are arranged in six orbital planes of four satellites. Under the plan, AFSPC is adding three more GPS satellites to the active set, allowing them all to be spread out, thus improving global coverage, especially over areas like the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.
Kehler said the realignment is already underway, but will take up to two years to complete since AFSPC doesn't want to expend a great deal of the satellites' fuel in moving them.
But, he added, "As soon as you start to move them, coverage begins to improve."
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