Air vehicle GPS backup navigation system

Accurate, reliable, cost-effective addition to the use of GPS


While advanced GPS systems provide highly accurate navigation, they are also susceptible to radio frequency (RF) interference, jamming, and occasional outages. When GPS fails, pilots must rely on one or more backup systems. Current systems include distance measuring equipment (DME) or transponders, very high frequency (VHF) omnidirectional radio range (VOR), instrument landing systems (ILS), as well as air traffic controllers using ground radar. Some of these systems will be phased out as the FAA transitions to its Next Generation (NextGen) Air Transportation System. However, new required equipment upgrades will be very expensive for most general aviation and civil Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) users. Several cost-effective alternatives are being evaluated, and the FAA initiated an Alternative Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (APNT) study to identify more robust means of GPS backup.

Answering the call for military flight test applications, China Lake engineers invented a triple redundancy solution for precise position, navigation and timing (PNT) in a low cost, size, weight, and power (c-SWAP) solution. GPS is accurate to a few meters, but the new Time-Space-Position-Information (TSPI) technology, using differential corrections, could be accurate to within a few centimeters. The invention uses an onboard inertial navigation system tightly coupled with GPS but also adds an independent onboard PNT system using pseudo-satellites, pseudolites, and ground-based algorithms to locate the air vehicle transmitter signals. The invention provides the Navy with a novel approach for TSPI in several areas, including GPS denied environments, highly dynamic aircraft, Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), and highly-dynamic guided weapons. This new technology could be a game-changer by enabling a more accurate, reliable, cost-effective addition to the use of GPS for some manned and unmanned systems flight testing and their integration into NextGen.

A system and method for time-space-position-information (TSPI) that includes at least one air-based platform having an onboard navigation system that includes a dedicated onboard transmitter and a dedicated onboard receiver. Ground-based receiver nodes are in communication with the onboard transmitter of the air-based platform. In addition, ground-based pseudolite transmitter nodes are in communication with the onboard receiver of the air-based platform. The system can provide TSPI solutions for the air-based platform during range and field testing. A ground-based station controls and monitors system components and processes data.

Primarily used for military applications. Possibilities exist for commercial aviation.

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