U.S. Air Force White Sands Missile Range upgrades Central Inertial and GPS Test Facility Reference System with Locata non-GPS-based positioning system

Dec. 14, 2012
LAS VEGAS, 14 Dec. 2012. U.S. Air Force officials needed to upgrade the dated Central Inertial and GPS Test Facility Reference System (CRS) for flight and ground testing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. They found their non-GPS-based positioning solution at Locata Corp. in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS, 14 Dec. 2012.U.S. Air Force officials needed to upgrade the dated Central Inertial and GPS Test Facility Reference System (CRS) for flight and ground testing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. They found their non-GPS-based positioning solution at Locata Corp. in Las Vegas.

Locata won a sole-source, multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract from the U.S. Air Force to install the ground-based LocataNet positioning system at White Sands Missile Range. Air Force personnel will field Locata’s new technology to gain accurate “reference truth” positioning across a vast area of White Sands when GPS is being completely jammed.

Officials in the 746th Test Squadron (746TS) sought a new, non-GPS-based positioning capability, describing it in a technical report as the key component for “the realization of the new ‘gold standard truth system’ for the increasingly demanding test and evaluation of future navigation systems for the U.S. Department of Defense.”

Locata’s technology will sit at the heart of the Air Force’s Ultra High-Accuracy Reference System (UHARS).

Under this new contract, Locata will provide Locata Receivers and LocataLite transmitters to blanket 2,500 square miles (6,500 sq km) of the White Sands Missile Range. Locata will also: deliver extended hardware warranty, along with ongoing Locata software and firmware upgrades, through to the year 2025; supply multi-year support for the installation, fielding, and testing of Locata networks; and provide long-term consultation and expert technical advice to ensure optimal operational performance of the fielded LocataNet systems.

Military personnel extensively tested a LocataNet covering 1,350 square miles (3,500 square kilometers) deployed at White Sands. They proved a LocataNet can accurately position aircraft over a large area when GPS is “denied.” Locata’s technology delivered accurate independent positioning as good as, or better than, the Air Force’s current CRS, arguably the most accurate reference system available for flight and ground testing today. “It’s an extremely sophisticated high-tech system, combining a differential dual-frequency GPS solution and a high accuracy inertial measurement unit with integrated gravity deflection of vertical corrections,” reveals a representative.

The Locata non-GPS-based positioning capability is core to the UHARS, which will now replace the CRS in 2014.

“Locata delivered a LocataNet for use in our Oct. 2011 technical demonstration on White Sands Missile Range that provided time and position truth, independent of GPS, which was better than 6 inches (18 centimeters) per axis while flying at 15,000 and 20,000 feet above mean sea level profiles,” describes Christopher Morin, technical director for the 746TS. “The solutions provided by the LocataNet were within the accuracy tolerance of the squadron’s CIGTF Reference System and met our threshold objectives.

“Further analysis has shown that if we optimize the LocataNet deployment, characterize its errors and tightly couple its range and carrier-phase measurements with the other GPS and inertial components on the UHARS pallet into the UHARS solution postprocessing software, I am confident we will be able to meet our 2-inch (5-centimeter) per axis truth reference objective,” Morin adds.

“Locata products developed and sold by commercial partners like Hexagon and Leica Geosystems have already shown our new technology is a game-changer for positioning over industrialsized areas,” says Nunzio Gambale, CEO and co-founder of Locata. “However, proving Locata can provide the U.S. Air Force with centimeter-accurate, non-GPS positioning over a vast military area when GPS is jammed instantly elevates our technology achievements into a completely new league.

“It’s important to grasp the scale of what we’ve done here,” Gambale continues. “The 2,500-square-mile LocataNet at White Sands will be 74 times the size of Manhattan Island. It must be clear, our ability to deliver cm-level (inch-level) positioning over an area that large, without using GPS satellites, is both unique and totally revolutionary. No-one else on earth can do this.

This contract makes it clear you are witnessing the arrival of one of the most important technology developments for the future of the entire positioning industry.”

About the Author

Courtney E. Howard | Chief Editor, Intelligent Aerospace

Courtney enjoys writing about all things high-tech in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Intelligent Aerospace and Military & Aerospace Electronics. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics and space geek. Connect with Courtney at [email protected], @coho on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and on Google+.

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