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DoD Units, Universities Test Air Platforms in GPS-Denied Environment

A group of Defense Department organizations and U.S. universities has tested various aircraft in an environment where global positioning system signal is degraded.

The U.S. Air Force said Wednesday the week-long demonstration dubbed Developmental Test Navigation Festival was carried out in Edwards Air Force Base, California to evaluate aerial system performance in a GPS-denied area.

DT NAVFEST involved the 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force; the 411th, 416th, 419th and 461st Flight Test Squadrons; the U.S. Army‘s Special Operations Command; Stanford University; and the University of Illinois.

James Cook, KC-46A project manager at the 418th Flight Test Squadron, said the test sought to “provide a locally, more realistic GPS jamming environment in which aircraft platforms and [remotely piloted aircraft] could evaluate their performance under a degraded GPS signal.”

Cook added that other locations across U.S. provide GPS-denied environments, but the availability of such setup in Edwards AFB will eliminate the need to deploy aerial systems to other sites.

Wei Lee, a test safety engineer at the 412th Test Wing, said DoD needs to support academic institutions’ research and development efforts since it is “extremely difficult” for academic laboratories to work with the Federal Aviation Administration and first responders to obtain live GPS jamming data.

Universities were called to join DT NAVFEST on a trial basis and the Air Force aims to extend the opportunity to other institutions, Lee added.

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