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Fri, Sep 21, 2007

Pentagon Says It Won't Block The Signal

Will Shift To GPS Without Reduction Capability

The Pentagon says it no longer needs to hamper signals from the Global Positioning System network in times of crisis, due to advancements in those systems.

The next generation of GPS satellites won't carry the capability to degrade the commercial GPS signal in favor of military uses, Pentagon spokesman Major Patrick Ryan told Reuters.

Current satellites allow the US government to reduce the accuracy of civilian signals -- by as much as 10 percent -- if the military deems it necessary to focus resources on a specific area, or to prevent enemies from intercepting the signal.

The military turned off its signal reduction capability in 2000, under an order from President Bill Clinton. That change alone boosted accuracy of civilian GPS readings from 100 meters, to about 10 meters... but it also allowed the military the option of restoring the signal blockage if necessary.

The Pentagon says its decision to eliminate the reduction capability on future GPS satellites should appease lingering concerns the federal government could still interfere with those signals

"While this action will not materially improve the performance of the system, it does reflect the United States' strong commitment to users by reinforcing that this global utility can be counted on to support peaceful civil applications around the globe," the Pentagon said.

The decision -- signed off by President Bush -- affects satellites scheduled for launch in 2013. Boeing and Lockheed are now in competition to provide the military with those next-generation satellites, according to Reuters.

FMI: www.pentagon.mil

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