The Space and Missile Systems Center’s Production Corps achieved a major Global Positioning System milestone on November 18 with the approval for Operational Acceptance of GPS Military-Code (M-Code) Early Use (MCEU).
The encrypted M-Code signal enhances anti-jamming and anti-spoofing capabilities for the warfighter. M-Code signals are available on all 23 GPS Block IIR-M, IIF and III space vehicles currently on-orbit. The successful testing events were completed at the Master Control Station at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado and Alternate Master Control Stations at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Operational Acceptance followed successful integrated developmental and operational testing of the GPS Operational Control Segment (OCS) upgrade. Operating in a trial period since June 2020, the MCEU upgrade allows the OCS Architecture Evolution Plan to task, upload and monitor M-Code within the GPS constellation, as well as support testing and fielding of modernized user equipment.
With M-Code now declared operational, upcoming Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) will be able to request early use of the M-Code signal-in-space to provide more secure position, navigation and timing (PNT) to warfighters.
The USSF awarded the contract to Lockheed Martin in 2017, MCEU serves as a gap filler for M-Code operations prior to the entire GPS constellation’s operational transition to the Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) Block 1, which is currently in development.
MCEU also includes a new software defined receiver installed globally at all six U.S. Space Force Monitoring Sites. The M-Code Monitor Station Technology Improvement and Capability (M-MSTIC) uses commercial, off-the-shelf hardware to cost effectively receive and process M-Code signals, enabling OCS operators to successfully monitor the M-Code signals.
“MCEU ushers in a new era of GPS support that will provide operators across the warfighting domain with assured PNT access while further preventing unauthorized use by our adversaries. This is a critical step in remaining the gold standard of PNT systems and promoting a peaceful, secure, stable, and accessible space domain,” said Lt. Jordan Malara, 2nd Space Operations Squadron GPS Warfighter Collaboration Cell assistant flight commander.