Air Force: No, GPS Will Not Fail

By  |  Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 12:42 pm

The Air Force has begun work to allay fears of GPS system failure following a GAO report last week that the system stands a risk of deteriorating starting in 2010. In a scheduled online forum over Twitter on the topic, the armed services branch said in no uncertain terms that GPS is not going anywhere.

“No, the GPS will not go down. GAO points out, there is potential risk associated with a degradation in GPS performance,”Col. Dave Buckman, AFSPC command lead for Position, Navigation and Timing said over Twitter.

Buckman continued by saying that he agreed with the agency that there was risk of performance issues, however the Air Force Space Command was indeed working to prevent any disruptions.

GAO officials have charged that budget overruns and a lack of oversight has put the system at risk. It’s apparent that the report stung hard enough that officials overseeing our system felt the need to respond to it.

“We definitely need to keep this in perspective . Since 1995, GPS has never failed to exceed performance standards,” Buckman argued.

I agree with the Air Force’s assessment. While cost overruns and oversight issues are handicapping the upgrades to a aging system, the GAO’s report came across as a little too much Chicken Little.

At the same time, its a lesson in government accountability that hopefully our new president is going to correct.


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. JDoors Says:

    “No, the GPS will not go down.”

    Typical: Answering a question no one asked.

    I’ve read the stories in several outlets and never got the impression the system was on the verge of collapse. It was always clear that there was the potential for accuracy to be affected.

    Did I miss all the doom-and-gloom reporting?

  2. J.Stagner Says:

    JDoors – What rock have you been under. all the networks have been using “the sky is falling” as headlines and teasers about GPS. Even PC World had an article yesterday about whether or not it was worth buying a new GPS because of the supposed certain failure next year. (The same author wrote an article using the twitter forum for AFSpace with a positive outlook)

    Food for thought….

  3. memory foam Says:

    JDoors is right, though, that the Air Force did not address the question of possible occasional failures and inaccuracies. If this occurs it could actually be worse than the entire system collapsing–at least in the latter case one knows where things stand. Whereas if inaccuracies sprung up on a more random basis one could get wrong info without suspecting it.

    I agree though that there’s a good chance the Air Force will end up taking care of the problem.

  4. Sidney Mathious Says:

    The satellites are old and they will malfunction over time and the Air Force is correct in my opinion to have them replaced before they completely quit working. The thing is how much is the government willing to spend on this to prevent the total colapse of GPS service.

    The satellites which is strickly for governmental use will be their first priority, since they are used by all military, and agencies like NASA. Secondarily are satellites which is used by governmental and civilian agencies which make money for the government, and corporations. The question is who will pay for the satellites we use today and pay companies for. Will money from corporations be put into upgrading the system and where did all the money go to which the government got from civilian agencies who pay for usage of the satellites already in space. I know that they knew that someday the units will have to be replaced.

  5. JDoors Says:

    @J.Stagner: “JDoors – What rock have you been under. …”

    My B.S. detector defaults to the “on” position so any innuendo that the system might “fail” must not have registered.