Military Uses for GPS

Although the GPS system was completed only a few years ago, it has already proved to be a valuable aid to U.S. military forces. Picture the desert, with its wide, featureless expanses of sand. The terrain looks much the same for miles. Without a reliable navigation system, U.S. forces could not have performed the maneuvers of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. With GPS the soldiers were able to go places and maneuver in sandstorms or at night when even the Iraqi troops who lived there couldn’t. More than 1,000 portable commercial receivers were initially purchased for their use. The demand was so great that before the
end of the conflict, more than 9,000 commercial receivers were in use in the Gulf region. They were carried by soldiers on the ground and were attached to vehicles, helicopters, and aircraft instrument panels. GPS receivers were used in several aircraft, including F-16 fighters, KC-135 aerial tankers, and B-52 bombers. Navy ships used them for rendezvous, minesweeping, and aircraft operations.

GPS has become important for nearly all military operations and weapons systems. It is also used on satellites to obtain highly accurate orbit data and to control spacecraft orientation.

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