Shooting down a GPS satellite?

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Bigdumps, Feb 23, 2008.

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  1. Hello all!

    Recently a mate and I were discussing what would happen if during war time the enemy were to destroy a GPS satellite, what would that mean for those on the ground and what strategic/operational problems would be encountered?

    I know there's a few boffins here :)
  2. It means they would need to unfold their maps
  3. Or the GPS sets need a little more time to get 3 satellites?
  4. Well theres a lot of them up there so they would probably have to get more than one.

    I believe (& stand to be corrected) that they are in very high orbits much more so than the satelites that the US and Chinese have recently destroyed, this would make them much harder to hit.

    Another thing to remember is that the US military can completely balls the system up for everyone except themselves so no one has to shoot them down for it to get messy. (lost yachts, Polish truck drivers etc...)
  5. Plus Europe has an independent network of navigational satellites. Of course, I don't think they'd be GPS compatible. Anyway, many of us found our way around long before the days of Garmin.
  6. Think it was a horizon program showed gps control centre think you would have to shoot lots of them down to make a diffrence got lots of them up there and back ups .
    Had to laugh people who worked there wore flight suits and called themselves war fighters .
  7. Not yet they don't. So far one test satellite has been launched, but the EU failed to find any company willing to stump up a further 3-7billion Euros to continue the project. As a result I believe that it has been 'nationalised' and will be funded by the EU, though at a rate that will result in some delays.

    Expect it to be available between 2012-2018. Main problem with the European model is that it will only cover the EU and the north coast of Africa. While it will be accurate to 1-2cm (as opposed to the American GPS of 1-10metres accuracy), the question has been asked: "who actually needs such accuracy, and how much are they willing to pay for it?". The answer to the question is not many and not much: traditional methods of survey meet nearly all needs at no extra cost.

    The Russians have their own satellite navigation system, but (IIRC) it is not global (thus cannot be called GPS).

    The GPS signal is easy enough to jam, and is under the control of the septics who can switch it off or (more amusingly) make it give erroneous locstats. There is a large amount of redundancy built into the GPS system. Most decent units, given a clear view of sky, can pick out 12 satellites without a problem. 2 satellites can give a reasonably accurate location fix, with the 3rd being required to give an altitude reading.
  8. If you destroyed half of them the US would be screwed. Everything uses GPS these days - warships, warplanes, precision bombs.

    Not sure but I think GPS satellites are stationed in a very high orbit and are harder to hit with a missile but yeah take enough of them out, along with their recon satellites, and the US's warfighting capability would be severely reduced.

    That is one weakness the US has and is urgently trying to address.
  9. To my limited knowledge, GPS systems need as few as 4 and up to 15 for an accurate position, depending on its usage.

    There next generation of missles will rely on GPS rather than laser targeting, so if they were to all disappear there might be a few problems for defense. But the Yanks have about 900+ military satellites flying at the moment and I'm betting a fair fraction are devoted to positioning and won't lose too much sleep if some of them cease to function.
  10. The technology behind this is interesting, but makes me wonder, the more we rely on technology increases the risk of one day the technology might fail or the systems behind it, leaving the war-fighters in trouble...

    Not just satellites but other tech as well. I know the more info one has of the battlespace the better the commander can make informed decisions.

  11. You need 3 satellites for a good fix on the ground (it's called "triangulation") and 4, IIRC, for an altitude fix. But there will always be an error of up to 20m RMS.

    I understood the US GPS system relied on 24 satellites in low-earth orbit and they had another 3 "parked" ready for use, with another 3-6 on the ground ready to go. This is not a system that can be knocked out overnight.

    However, it can be locally degraded by something the size of a matchbox costing pennies and DERA's party piece used to be a demonstration of how their cheap box of tricks could bring the local system to a grinding halt!

    I agree with Dread's brief on the EU system which is called Galileo. A terrible waste of money on a system which doesn't work and will only swallow money. But that's alright because this is the EU.... and their boys will be round in the morning to see me for slagging off the EU.

    The Russians couldn't keep up their efforts and their system (GLONETZ or something like that) is in poor condition.

    The 50,000 OS map costs some £6 in the shops and, in the hands of an experienced user (so that excludes all officers....) is 100% accurate at all times of the day and night!

  12. BiscuitsAB

    BiscuitsAB LE Moderator

    Yer have to get your SAS issue silk E&E map out of the seam of your combats where its sewn in.
  13. Quick check with Google has most sites talking about there being 31 of the satellites so you'd certainly have your work cut out for you.
  14. Perhaps some input from our aviation and naval colleagues might be of use here. I understood that it was initially intended for maritime and aircraft navigation but more specifically for the strategic nuclear components of US forces (ie Nuclear Bombers and SLBMs). Hence the vulnerability to multi-pathing, leaves etc all other uses beyond fixing the postion of your Polaris/Trident/B52/B1/B2 are secondary. Leaves and buildings do not intercede between subs/planes and satellites.

    I understood that the increased accuracy was achieved by adding a geostationary component to the constellation which would broadcast correction signals. The primary application for this was civil aviation and that the continental US already had such coverage.

    GLONASS See the current status para half way down the page.
  15. Can't find the quote but a bloke in the South East was convicted for broadcasting bogus GPS signals that directed car satnav systems to home in on his "GPS repair shop"

    He would then turn the system off and take the money off the lost customers for "fixing" the problem.

    Fairly sure this wasn't an urban myth although I can't find the story.