WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army plans to select a contractor for its Mounted Assured Position Navigation and Timing program by the end of September as a way to ensure soldiers know where they are even if GPS isn’t working, program leaders said Sept. 10.
In the meantime, the service will continue to give soldiers access to an earlier version of the program over the next two years.
“We are nearing an award to a single vendor who will go forward with that program of record,” said Col. Nickolas Kioutas, program manager for position, navigation and timing within the Army’s Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors. “Right now we have fielded our MAPS Gen 1 and we’re continuing to field MAPS Gen 1 over the next two years, and then we’re transitioning to our MAPS program of record.”
Mounted Assured Position Navigation and Timing, or MAPS, is the Army’s solution to ensuring soldiers know where they are even if the GPS signal is denied, degraded or spoofed. MAPS will be able to fuse PNT data, ingesting information from a variety of sensors providing timing, barometer measurements and inertial navigation to provide an independent alternative that can validate or replace GPS.
“Sensor fusion also lays the foundation to operate without GPS or without (radio frequency), because if you can take in velocity or barometer or an (inertial navigation unit), those are not jammable or spoofable. You can know where you’re at and still report where you’re at,” said Lt. Col. Alexander Rasmussen, product manager for Mounted Positioning Navigation and Timing.
MAPS will also be able to deliver M-Code — a more secure military GPS signal — to soldiers. Additionally, the anti-jam antenna being developed with MAPS can be used as a sensor to locate interference, enabling the Army to counter jamming or spoofing.
In 2019, the Army outfitted a number of Stryker vehicles with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany with MAPS Gen 1 — its initial “Fight Tonight” capability.
“That Gen 1 capability is enabling protection from GPS threats so they can continue to shoot, move, and communicate in a contested environment,” Rasmussen said. “And a key part of that is not just knowing where you’re at—it’s so that command and control can know where you’re at.”
Even as the Army moves forward with MAPS Gen 2 as a program of record, it plans to continue fielding the Gen 1 capability.
“While we’re continuing to move forward with the [program of record] solution [...], we’ll continue to get this to the soldiers and forces that need it in order to support their mission downrange in support of Army operations,” Rasmussen said.
Specifically, the Army plans to outfit even more of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment’s vehicles. And in preparation for their deployment, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and tanks used by the 1st Infantry Division with the 1st Brigade at Fort Riley, Kansas, will be receiving the MAPS Gen 1 upgrade.
Up to this point, the Army has been working with two vendors on phase two of an Other Transaction Authority to develop the MAPS Program of Record. They hope to award phase three to one vendor by the end of September and move towards Milestone C authority of the MAPS program of record and begin production, said Rasmussen.
Later, MAPS Gen 3 will evolve to the C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards, or CMOSS. CMOSS is effectively a common chassis being developed by the Army that will enable new capabilities to be installed via plug-and-play cards. For instance, at a recent test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the Army was able to test out a new PNT capability that was delivered as a card plugged into CMOSS chassis installed on a Stryker vehicle. Along with an anti-jam antenna, that card was able to deliver the MAPS capability to the war fighter.
With CMOSS, the Army hopes to both save space by using a common space for multiple capabilities and get new capabilities out to the field faster using that plug-and-play dynamic.
Nathan Strout was the staff editor at C4ISRNET, where he covered the intelligence community.