Air Force Faulted For Potential Gps System Failure

05.20.09 | FL News Team

The Global Positioning Satellite System that is relied on by the U.S. military to steer everything from smart bombs to tanks could start to become less accurate within a year. That is what the Government Accountability Office has reported to Congress.

The report says "in recent years, the Air Force has struggled to successfully build GPS satellites within cost and schedule goals." "PC World" says the report is refers to a two-billion dollar modernization program to replace satellites, many of which are working well beyond their expected lifespans. Some are more than 20 years old.

The report goes on to say there is an increased likelihood that in 2010, as old satellites begin to fail, the overall GPS constellation will fall below the number of satellites required to provide the level of GPS service that the U.S. government commits to.

The U.S. GPS system is made up of 32 satellites scattered in very specific orbits around the planet. Receivers on Earth use signals from those satellites to determine fairly precisely where on the planet the receiver is located along with the altitude.

The military relies on precise locations provided by the system for weapons targeting. Civilians increasingly use the system to avoid getting lost while driving.