The export controls issue also served as a catalyst for the U.S. commercial GPS
industry to organize itself. Prior to the 1991 revision of export controls, U.S.
manufacturers were concerned that foreign competitors were gaining an unfair
advantage because of fewer restrictions. Fearing that the United States would
lose control over an American-made space technology, a group of GPS manufacturers
began working together to tackle export problems and in the process
formed the U.S. GPS Industry Council (USGIC). The USGIC now has a permanent
office in Washington, D.C., and has incorporated as a nonprofit entity.
The council monitors and addresses emerging regulatory, political, and global
issues affecting the GPS industry and serves as an information resource for key

By the time the GPS constellation neared completion in the early 1990s, domestic
manufacturers were well aware of the commercial potential of GPS.
Ironically, it was the military, through its involvement in the Persian Gulf conflict,
that gave the commercial GPS market its biggest boost. The success of GPS
in Operation Desert Storm sparked a surge in a growing multi-million-dollar
market that had barely existed just a few years prior to the war. Desert Storm
provided the setting for showing off all the military uses of GPS—from helping
soldiers navigate across a featureless desert to enabling artillery and bomber
units to target the enemy with unprecedented accuracy.

When the war broke out, there were a limited number of military receivers in
the DoD inventory. This led the DoD to purchase thousands of GPS civilian receivers
and the National Command Authority (NCA) to turn off selectiveavailability (SA) so that the troops could get better accuracy using the civilian
receivers. The Pentagon bought most of the GPS receivers used in the Persian
Gulf from Trimble Navigation and Magellan Systems. These two companies
became emergency suppliers, selling the Pentagon 10,000 and 3,000 receivers
respectively.Close to 90 percent of the GPS receivers used in the war were of
the commercial sort.

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