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C4iSR: Air

USAF seeks GPS hardening for MC/EC-130J special mission aircraft

04 December 2018
The US Air Force is looking to protect its MC-130J and EC-130J (pictured) special mission platforms from increased GPS jamming. Source: US Air Force

The US Air Force (USAF) is looking to protect its special mission Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules aircraft against GPS jamming, with a request for information (RFI) issued to industry on 3 December.

Issued by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Cycle, Special Operations Forces and Personnel Recovery Division (AFLCMC/WIS), the RFI concerns interim GPS hardening capabilities for the MC-130J Commando II and EC-130J Commando Solo platforms. The MC-130J serves as a covert and low-level aerial refuelling platform for special operations helicopters and tiltrotors, with the EC-130J performing psychological operations missions.

The RFI for an interim solution has been issued because of delays in developing a full solution until after the original 2021 timeframe mandated under the fiscal year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act.

"Due to the non-availability of Military Code (M-Code) hardware until after the calendar year 2021 timeframe, the Air Force Special Operations Command [AFSOC] requires an interim upgraded system to improve GPS performance in a GPS degraded/denied threat environment. This GPS Hardening Anti-Jamming solution is intended to mitigate and offset these threats until the mandated M-Code solution becomes available," the RFI stated, adding, "For the interim solution, the US government is pursuing the acquisition of two digital GPS hardening technologies to replace the existing GAS-1 antenna electronics with digital nulling (the ability of the antenna to remove threat signals from GPS interference) and digital beam steering (the ability to improve extra gain toward GPS satellite). Integrating these improved GPS nulling and beam steering capabilities onboard the MC/EC-130J aircraft will require procuring the Digital Antenna Electronics (DAE) equipment, upgrading the GPS receiver and making the software updates or upgrades to the Dash (-) 5 Embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation System (EGI) without incurring research and development costs."

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