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DARPA Eyes ‘Very Low Frequency’ Signals For PNT Systems as GPS Backup

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MUOS-satelliteThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency plans to demonstrate a positioning, navigation and timing system that will use very low frequency band signals as backup in case military forces lose access to GPS networks.

Lin Haas, DARPA strategic technology officer, discussed the Spatial, Temporal and Orientation Information in Contested Environments project at DARPA Demo Day, the U.S. Army said May 19.

DARPA plans to demonstrate the STOIC system by fiscal year 2018 or 2019 while an at-sea demo will be conducted this year.

Haas said the agency is working with the Army Communications Electronics Research Development and Engineering Command to develop STOIC as a backup PNT system that will provide global coverage and support application for naval surface and aviation.

There are VLF stations in fixed locations across the globe and the U.S. Navy uses VLF signals to communicate with submarines.

Haas showed a video wherein a vehicle’s route was tracked through a combination of inertial navigation and a VLF signal.

The Army said the line that tracked the route moved “erratically” but stayed near the vehicle and Haas explained these movements as the effect of magnetic interference from things in the area.

Haas added DARPA is working to address the interference and it does not affect aerial or at-sea tracking.

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