New Technology May Help Ground Ops To Sidestep GPS Jamming Threats


Ground forces may soon be getting a new tool to find their way around hostile territory. With support from the Air Force SBIR/STTR Program, Virginia-based Echo Ridge LLC is developing a process to overcome GPS-contested environments by using radio frequency signals as a source of positioning information. The solution is designed to fit in a small package that can be carried by ground operators.

Adversaries use GPS jammers to disrupt allied operations as well as to protect themselves from attack by aircraft launched precision weapons. These jammers deny access to the GPS signal for our ground forces in the region, making it difficult to navigate.

Echo Ridge developed and applied its technology to build a hand-held device that can provide navigation information to ground forces, according to Mark Smearcheck, an electronics engineer with the AFRL Sensors Directorate. The company worked to provide a complementary, backup source of positioning, navigation, and timing by creating an algorithm to aggregate signals of opportunity from various radio frequency sources. The algorithm is used to determine a position based on the time difference of arrival of those signals, which do not operate on the same frequency as GPS.

By receiving and processing various radio frequency sources not designed for navigation purposes, the new system can pinpoint a user’s location without relying on GPS. The device connects to a smart phone running the Android Tactical Assault Kit, a device typically carried by Air Force ground operators, to display the navigation solution on a map.