ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) — Members of the Joint Service System Management Office here provide global positioning systems-enabled technology in direct support of warfighters worldwide.

Part of the 752nd Combat Sustainment Group, the JSSMO has representatives from all military branches. The unit maintains GPS receivers in the only operational GPS lab in the Department of Defense.

The Blue Force Tracker is one of the systems that uses the GPS equipment maintained here. All military branches use the BTF to help track friendly units regardless of their location.

The tracker system can detect where a unit is located as well as determine whether or not the unit is moving and what form of transportation the unit is using.

“It can see them on the ground or in an aircraft,” said Willie Jackson, a JSSMO integration engineer. “It can see them flying around or driving around.

“Without the GPS receivers maintained by Robins AFB’s GPS lab, the Blue Force Tracker would not be able to provide grid coordinates or the timing needed for synchronization,” Mr. Jackson said.

Two receivers are presently used with the system: the Defense Advanced GPS Receiver, the most recent version; and the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver, many of which are being phased out and replaced.

The lab is equipped with a replica of the equipment used in the combat and tactical vehicles to test software before sending it to the field, Mr. Jackson said.

The receivers are removable, allowing military members to take the receiver with them when leaving a vehicle.

“It can tell them how to get out of the area or allow them to notify other units of their location,” Mr. Jackson said.

The U.S. military is using more than 40,000 BFTs in rotary aircraft, helicopters, mine-resistant ambush potected vehicles, Humvees and tanks.

Other equipment using the GPS receiver includes laser rangefinders, which are primarily used by special forces and tactical air control party members.

The JSSMO also tests software using laser rangefinders to ensure software updates will not hinder their use in the field. VECTOR 21 and the MARK 7 laser rangefinders send a laser beam to the target and determine the location of and distance to a target. The MARK 7 can be used in pitch black because it provides the user with night vision.

Other equipment maintained by the lab includes the Single Channel Ground-to-Air Radio System. This radio continually hops from one radio channel to another in order to keep the radio from being jammed or detected.

The radio would not be able to maintain the timing it requires to be synchronized without GPS, Mr. Jackson said.

Another GPS-enabled technology the office is responsible for is the development of a Combat Survivor Evader Locator, or CSEL. The radio was planned after Capt. Scott O’Grady was shot down during Operation Deny Flight, which enforced the no-fly zone over Bosnia. Captain O’Grady’s F-16 Fighting Falcon was shot down by a surface-to-air missile June 2, 1995, south of Banja Luka, Bosnia. For six days, he evaded capture before being rescued by a Marine Corps search and rescue team after the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines combined their efforts.

It was the six-day wait that prompted the development of the CSEL, said Stephen Morrissey, an equipment specialist for the lab.

The CSEL radio is a handheld GPS worn in a pilot’s vest. The radio enables a pilot to communicate messages at the touch of a button, such as “I’m injured” or “enemy nearby.” It will indicate a pilot’s location, even if the pilot is incapacitated.

The GPS software tested and developed by the unit is used throughout the military and helps troops around the world locate targets and one another.

Up Next

FBI internal report finds improper use of national security letters

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- Members of the Joint Service System Management…