“…Today DHS will begin implementing an independent positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) system that complements the Global Positioning System (GPS) in the event of a (signal) outage or disruption in service… The enhanced Loran or eLoran will be the land-based independent system”
This has yet to be implemented.
There is currently NO global back-up system to GPS.
There is currently NO universal US back-up system.
What would happen if the next solar flare disrupted service from our satellites? What if anti-US or terrorist groups jammed our satellites? Without a viable non-GPS based back-up system, the US is at a great security risk. It would cost billions, perhaps trillions of dollars if our GPS signal was taken out?
The Tale of Two Systems
GPS and eLoran on parallel tracks, merge to set course on a new track, at the intersection where technology, politics and economy fuse to validate the policy decision*, to assure continuity of PNT services and meet national safety and security goals.
In the beginning…
Loran and GPS, children of the US DOD, born out of necessity during World War II. Loran, first out of the gate, to serve urgent needs as aid to navigation to DOD maritime and aviation interest in the conduct of the WWII effort. GPS, in evolutionary steps, to serve national security interest in the conduct of the cold war, spurned on by ‘sputnik’, soon to morph into a sophisticated PNT machine with a global agenda. Both evolved in lock-step, each with a narrow mandate to serve specialized interest of a limited but growing constituency. Loran with an eye to the marine would address oceanic and harbor navigation and safety-of-passage. GPS took to the sky, uniquely focused to serve national security imperatives and foreign policy initiatives. Each growing independently, Loran to provide reliable low cost P&N services, recognized for enhancing maritime safety and attendant economic benefits; GPS to meet its mandate for national security. Each, on track, to pursue its given agenda, driven by unique technology and economic imperatives, generally in a non-compete environment. Loran and its maritime supporter, GPS and its civil users. Technology, initially the strength and source of the divide, evolved accompanied by crossover, Loran services extended nationwide to General Aviation (GA), facilitated with FAA sponsorship, GPS services extended to industry and commerce facilitated with a policy decision to remove Selective Availability (SA) and guarantee signal availability at no cost to the civil user communities. Each relying on its technological and/or cost competitive edge; seeking continuing political support for favorable policy and funding for growth. The inherent competitive advantage tended to erode to coalesce around the call for a ‘System of systems’ to meet the larger national security goal, “protecting and ensuring the continuity of the critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) of the United States, essential to the nation’s security, safety and economic vitality and way of life”.
…in the end
The rallying call for ‘assured availability and continuity of precise PNT services’ trumped GPS ambitions, once considered, ‘sole source, all things for all people for all times’ in favor of a GPS, its augmentations, complemented with a national backup, of equal precision, to provide continuity of PNT sevices due to GPS outages or denial. Enter the US PNT Executive Board to recommend the policy decision to merge GPS and eLoran, the technologically and economically superior option to meet the national security goal and provide continuity of PNT services absent GPS signals.