GPS Modernization

How can we help the military take advantage of GPS improvements?


When new operating systems or applications for computers and smartphones are made available, it’s often easy for users with recent devices to download the upgrades. However, users with older hardware may have more difficulty, and in some cases, may not be able to take advantage of the new capabilities. The U.S. Department of Defense faces a similar challenge as it prepares to begin using a new military Global Positioning System (GPS) signal called M-Code, which promises improved resistance to enemy jamming attempts, scheduled to begin transmission in 2017.

Capabilities Used
Positioning, Navigation & Timing (PNT)

Draper develops novel PN&T solutions by combining precision instrumentation, advanced hardware technology, comprehensive algorithm and software development skills, and unique infrastructure and test resources to deploy system solutions. The scope of these efforts generally focuses on guidance, navigation, and control GN&C-related needs, ranging from highly accurate, inertial solutions for (ICBMs) and inertial/stellar solutions for SLBMs, to integrated Inertial Navigation System(INS)/GPS solutions for gun-fired munitions, to multisensor configurations for soldier navigation in GPS-challenged environments. Emerging technologies under development that leverage and advance commercial technology offerings include celestial navigation (compact star cameras), inertial navigation (MEMS, cold atom sensors), precision time transfer (precision optics, chip-scale atomic clocks) and vision-based navigation (cell phone cameras, combinatorial signal processing algorithms).

Precision Instrumentation

Draper develops precision instrumentation systems that exceed the state-of-the-art in key parameters (input range, accuracy, stability, bandwidth, ruggedness, etc.) that are designed specifically to operate in our sponsor’s most challenging environments (high shock, high temperature, radiation, etc.).  As a recognized leader in the development and application of precision instrumentation solutions for platforms ranging from missiles to people to micro-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Draper finds or develops state-of-the-art components (gyros, accelerometers, magnetometers, precision clocks, optical systems, etc.) that meet the demanding size, weight, power and cost needs of our sponsors and applies extensive system design capabilities consisting of modeling, mechanical and electrical design, packaging and development-level testing to realize instrumentation solutions that meet these critical and demanding needs.

Secure & Assured Systems

Over the past 10 years, Draper has extracted miniature systems and real-time embedded systems design knowledge to develop cyber capabilities to assess software vulnerabilities and capabilities to secure electronics systems. Additionally, Draper has demonstrated secure networks featuring over-the-air keying to realize cryptographically encoded, high-bandwidth communications for UAVs and other applications. These complementary capabilities and technologies provide robust security solutions to guard critical embedded systems against cyber, reverse engineering, and other attacks and ensure that critical information can be protected and delivered in a timely and accurate manner.

GPS Modernization
The IIR(M) modernized satellite is one of seven operational satellites in orbit that support the new military M-Code. Photo credit:

In many cases, a military user’s transition may be as simple as installing a replacement ground receiver and a software update. A more complicated transition may be in store for platforms that do not have a continuous direct view of the GPS satellites, such as other spacecraft, aircraft that are making quick, frequent maneuvers and guided munitions with a high degree of spin.



U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Lorenzo Johnson examines his GPS receiver during a route reconnaissance patrol in Iraq. Photo credit DoD photo by Cpl. Brian A. Jaques, U.S. Marine Corps


Draper engineers are helping the military address this challenge with an intimate knowledge of GPS signals based on more than two decades of experience testing modernized signals, including the M-Code and associated user equipment. Application of this expertise will help improve military users’ GPS tracking and navigation accuracy in the face of jamming and natural obstacles.

Draper’s Deep Integration algorithm takes advantage of the unique nature of the M-Code signal to increase receiver antijam performance.

Technical Contact
Jan Anszperger