WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force is integrating a new GPS simulator at its Guided Weapons Evaluation Facility to support testing of the service’s swarming munitions program, Golden Horde.

The service has selected Orolia Defense and Security’s BroadSim Wavefront simulator to help test electronic protection technology at the Guided Weapons Evaluation Facility, which is located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Orolia didn’t disclose the value of the contract.

The new simulator will help the service test Controlled Reception Pattern Antennas, which offer protection against GPS jamming and spoofing — an important capability for a program like Golden Horde that relies on positioning, navigation and timing information. Orolia’s software-defined solution offers automated calibration and flexibility to bring on future sensors and signals, according to a Feb. 15 company press release.

“Because of the software-defined architecture, many upgrades don’t require additional hardware, which has been a crucial advantage for customers who are already using the solution,” Tim Hohman, Orolia’s director of products, said in the release.

Golden Horde is one of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s four Vanguard programs — a designation the lab reserves for high-priority, transformational technology development efforts. Through Golden Horde, the service is working to network swarms of munitions to operate autonomously using a common playbook.

AFRL conducted its first Golden Horde test in December 2020 during in which an F-16 dropped two laser-guided Collaborative Small Diameter Bombs that established communication links and were able to detect multiple targets. However, because of a software issue, the onboard processor — after opting to shift from an initial target to a higher-priority one — was unable to redirect to the new target.

The program has since completed two more live demonstration exercises, and last September AFRL announced it would partner with the Defense Innovation Unit and John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab to transition the program into a new virtual competitive technology demonstration phase.

The initiative, dubbed Operation Protovision, will use Golden Horde’s virtual environment to test industry capabilities like autonomous software and networked radios. L3Harris, Lockheed Martin, EpiSci, Autodyne, Shield AU and Systems & Technology Research were the first six companies to receive contracts.

The first of four planned virtual competitions occurred in December, and the testing phase will culminate with the winners participating in a live demonstration later this year.

Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET's space and emerging technology reporter. She previously covered the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force for Inside Defense.

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