In addition to precipitating a rise in demand for GPS commercial receivers, the
war provided GPS technology and the suppliers of GPS receivers broad exposure.
News coverage of the conflict served as free publicity for the two main
wartime suppliers. Following the war, Trimble Navigation’s sales to non-DoD
customers went from a fraction of overall sales to a majority. Desert Storm
was also instrumental in helping manufacturers ramp up operations.

However, the war was also disruptive because manufacturing lines were turned
to support DoD demand, and commercial GPS marketing efforts were slowed
for the duration of the war. Nevertheless, in peacetime, the U.S. commercial
GPS manufacturers continue to produce new and cheaper receivers.
While GPS markets have benefited from government policies and initiatives, the
development in commercial markets has also contributed to the national security
mission of GPS. The demand by civilian commercial users of GPS for
smaller, better, cheaper receivers has directly benefited systems designed
specifically for military use. For example, the precision lightweight GPS receiver
(PLGR) used by U.S. military forces and designated a “nondevelopmental
item” was built at a low cost and delivered on time in large part
due to technical benefits derived from research and development being
conducted for civilian commercial applications.

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