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GPS OCX: The View From Raytheon
An Interview with Robert N. Canty
by Hartley Lesser

The next generation Global Positioning System (GPS) Operational Control Segment (OCX) will provide command, control and mission support for current GPS Block II and all future Block III satellites as well as support for existing and new interfaces. The focus will be on military transformational and civil needs across the globe. This will include advanced anti-jam capabilities, improved system security, accuracy and reliability. GPS OCX will be based on a modern, service-oriented architecture that will integrate government and industry open system standards.

I was able to chat with Robert N. Canty, the Director of DoD Systems of Space Systems for the Intelligence and Information Systems business of The Raytheon Company. He oversees DoD space programs in Space Systems’ headquarters in Aurora, Colorado. Canty served previously as Site Manager and Assistant Product Line Manager for Commercial Space Systems business area in El Segundo, California.

Mr. Canty joined the former Hughes Space and Communications Company in February 1984. Before assuming his current position, Canty was the Raytheon Six Sigma Champion and Expert for Space Systems in the Strategic System business unit of Raytheon.

Canty won the Future Imaging Architecture Mission Control System (FIA MCS) program as the Capture Manager. He received his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and his MBA from Pepperdine University.

Q: Mr. Canty, would you please offer your view of how GPS functions and the different segments involved?

A: In GPS, there are three different segments and a Systems Integrator. The first segment is the control segment or GPS OCX. The control segment, to the first order, is the timekeeper for the system. The control segment receives all of the satellite signals and calculates the satellite ephemeris and clock updates. As necessary, the control segment commands the satellite to update clocks and position knowledge in order to maintain system timing and navigation accuracy. Optimizing the GPS System requires a number of very complex math algorithms.

The second segment is the user equipment. User equipment can be a hand held device for a soldier, a device in guided munitions, or a unit in the cockpit of an aircraft. The user equipment processes the signals from space and triangulates on a minimum of four satellites to determine its location.

The third segment is space. Twenty-four satellites are required for a full constellation. Additional satellites above twenty-four provide further redundancy and system availability. The satellites are, essentially, clocks in the sky. The GPS system sends out the time of day and the location of the satellites.

Q: Which of these systems is of interest to Raytheon?

A: The future ground control segment, or GPS OCX, is the focus of Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS). We bring more than 40 years of high availability precision satellite ground command and control system experience to GPS. There are currently three competitors for GPS OCX. One of these competitors will be eliminated within the next few months and in about 18 months; one contractor will be selected to work on this project for the next 15 to 20 years.

Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems is currently performing on the Modernized User Equipment (MUE) contract. Raytheon has led close to 100 GPS related programs and has delivered thousands of pieces of user equipment for the DoD, civil, commercial and national markets ranging in activities from navigation, transportation, surveying and rescue operations. There are three contractors currently performing work on the MUE. Preliminary Congressional Budget language calls for maintaining continued competition in this segment and accelerating the development of the MUE.

Q: Regarding the spacecraft contractors, you have worked with most of these companies before?

A: Raytheon builds control systems for every U.S. satellite provider. GPS OCX is required to perform with a mixed constellation of vehicles and payloads produced by different vendors. Raytheon IIS’s focus is the control segment. Our company does not have a satellite-manufacturing group, unlike other companies that typically only produce control segments to support their own vehicles. We have supported all of the satellite contractors currently involved in the GPS III spacecraft competition.

The Air Force has separated the control segment from the satellite contract in order to address the challenging military and civil needs across the globe. The Air Force looks at GPS OCX acquisition as a pathfinder for future acquisitions. Establishing each segment as a separate contract allows better contract oversight, a commitment towards strengthening Space and Missile Commands industrial base and facilitates technology infusion into the GPS architecture.

In past acquisitions if the space segment milestones slipped, so did the control segment milestones. Decoupling space and control segment allows for delivery of enhanced system capabilities much more rapidly in the future. By integrating commercial best practices, enhanced automation and state-of-the-art mission management software hosted on a service-oriented architecture, OCX will provide the revolutionary opportunity to focus not just on flying satellites, but enhance services to operational users.

Therefore, time certain delivery is a critical aspect of the control segment procurement going forward. Being able to not only deliver on time, but to deliver enhanced capabilities much more rapidly, is the key to success. Our unique history of working with all satellite vendors enables our approach to time certain delivery.

Q: Could you give us an example?

A: The first delivery of the control segment takes full advantage of the modernized capabilities on the launched IIR-Ms and the future IIF satellites by activating the new civil signals (L2C and L5) and the new improved military M code. The current control segment does not provide this capability. These enhanced capabilities are independent of the GPS III satellite schedule. Improved M code capability does require MUE delivery.

Q: It really is immaterial which spacecraft provider ends up getting the contract, as far as Raytheon is concerned, because you’ve already worked with most of them and, as you have stated, it’s an independent activity.

A: That’s correct. We don’t have a preference if it’s a Boeing satellite, a Lockheed satellite, or anybody else’s satellite. The control segment has to work with any satellite vendor’s product going forward. It’s that ability to be independent that is a key attribute. Raytheon is uniquely positioned because we have worked with all U.S satellite vendors. The control segment is our focus. Raytheon has a tremendous track record of delivering projects on time, independent of space vendor.

Q: What enhanced capabilities will GPS OCX implement that will be beneficial from both a warfighter as well as a civilian perspective?

A: A key attribute is improved accuracy of the overall system. The control segment is the key component to satisfying this need. More data points from the satellites, better predictive algorithms and more frequent clock and ephemeris updates ensure increased accuracy.

Increasing accuracy is important for future warfighting. Many evolving systems depend on improved accuracy such as persistence surveillance and the use of a small diameter bomb.

To get the maximum effects using a small diameter bomb, you have to be more accurate in your ability to hit the target.

There are also many civil applications that can benefit from increased accuracy. For instance, modern networking takes advantage of GPS as a timing source. Better timing precision allows a network to process more packets of data. There’s a huge commercial economic benefit associated with improved accuracy. There are several new markets that would come online, thanks to improved accuracy, markets we can’t even envision today.

Integrity is another area of enhanced capability enabled by the control segment. Users of GPS need to know that the GPS signal is good and therefore their location is known. This is especially true for critical operations such as aircraft navigation or use of force in military operations. Critical users of GPS need a warning in a short period of time indicating that a signal is potentially misleading and should be disregarded. Raytheon has developed the only FAA certified satellite navigation system in the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). Our solution applies this experience to offer the Air Force a cost-effective implementation of integrity.

Q: As you are probably well aware, ITT just was awarded the contract from the FAA for the next GPS system for aircraft. How will this affect your implementation, if such occurs?

A: I believe the aircraft will receive the GPS signal and broadcast its location to the FAA as well as other aircraft in its proximity. The location information received will be displayed enabling the FAA and pilots to determine where all other planes are located. That system is dependant on GPS integrity either through GPS or WAAS.

Q: I’ve heard a great deal about resistance to jamming… how is this to be implemented?

A: Our adversaries realize we have an advantage when it comes to GPS enabled precision operations and being able to jam GPS can have a significant impact. Implementing GPS capabilities to be more resistant to jamming is of critical importance. This is a need for the warfighter as well as for civil and commercial users.

Many commercial and civil systems such as communications, energy and banking depend on GPS. To the maximum extent possible, the GPS system will need to be impervious to jamming. Implementation will require contributions from all segments of GPS.

From the control segment standpoint, better situational awareness for system operators is an important attribute. Situational awareness of system health, status and performance offers a view of the actual performance of the GPS system and a predictive tool of future performance. This includes an understanding of the jamming environment and how to respond. This capability can be enhanced independent of satellite delivery.

Q: How about redundancy – big issue – how will redundancy be addressed with GPS OCX?

A: GPS OCX delivers a primary and backup control system. The primary and backup systems are each fully redundant. Redundancy is a critical requirement for the implementation of integrity. Our implementation uses approaches and designs from our successful implementation of WAAS.

Q: What does Raytheon mean by “commercial best practices”?

A: We’ve delivered over 40 commercial systems, many of which were fixed price contracts. We have become extremely good at delivering high quality systems, on time and within budget. We developed an industry leading software re-use approach. Our software is designed for re-use. Because Raytheon history of working with different types of satellite busses, payloads, and vendors, our software is extremely mature at adapting to new requirements. When you’re using software designed for re-use, you can complete projects much more rapidly with fewer defects.

Q: Raytheon has many worldwide interests. How does this play into the national security plans for the United States? Would a financially rewarding overseas project be of interest to Raytheon if it were to impede work on our own nation’s defense systems?

A: Raytheon makes a commitment under a contract, the appropriate dedicated resources are assigned and management ensures that sufficient resources are maintained throughout the program lifecycle. Decisions for pursuing new business always takes into account current commitments and availability of resources. Raytheon has a proven track record of successfully completing programs on time and within budget.

Q: Thanks for your time, Mr. Canty. Do you have any closing thoughts?

A: GPS OCX is the pathfinder for the US Air Force Space & Missile Systems Center for separating the acquisition of space and control segments. This approach allows for better contract oversight, enables more responsive technology infusion and demonstrates commitment towards strengthening the industrial base. We applaud the Air Forces direction.