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Thread: What if: GPS and all Western satellites are successfully neutralised

  1. #1
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    What if: GPS and all Western satellites are successfully neutralised

    Right. This thread will expose my utter lack of understanding of the general principles here, but I'm going to plow ahead anyway.

    Premise: Let's just say China (for example) is capable of disabling US satellites in a near future engagement. How they do it, I don't know. Maybe through hacking, maybe through flinging stuff at them. The point is, would the US/Nato/West be able to conduct effective operations without all the goodies they've become so dependent upon? Never mind civilians driving off a cliff because their Tom Tom went tits up, what about the military? Are they still drilled in the traditional, non-technological, methods of manoeuvre? If so, would they be able to coordinate sufficiently to perform their duties?

    PS - I searched this section for a what if scenario like this and didn't see one, so if I've missed the bus kindly ignore the above

    PPS - I broach this subject because I wonder, as we move into a new age with more and more unmanned weaponry, what would happen if all the drones suddenly didn't work? Are we still training enough people to fly? Same goes for every other aspect of conflict. Your considered responses are very much appreciated


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    there are other guidance systems that can be deployed which are GPS independent.

    ... and the US has been working on alternatives to GPS ever since the Russians gave the Iraqis GPS jammers 12 years ago....

    the west had precision guidance before we had GPS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surreal McCoy View Post
    Right. This thread will expose my utter lack of understanding of the general principles here, but I'm going to plow ahead anyway.
    I didn't have GPS and neither did the two Soviet armies who was going to steamroll me!

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    DARPA has funded development of a next generation minaturised laser/giro inertial navigation system which is apparently almost on par in terms of accuracy with GPS. Also you can still go 'old tech' for general navigation purposes and use LORAN style ground based navigation beacons - not nearly as accurate for targeting purposes but good enough to get you where you want to go. Finally as the song says "anything you can do I can do better" so if all else fails you can always take out (or use and abuse) their GPS systems and then we get to see who was paying the most attention during their OTC navigation classes - level the playing field so to speak.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    DARPA has funded development of a next generation minaturised laser/giro inertial navigation system which is apparently almost on par in terms of accuracy with GPS. Also you can still go 'old tech' for general navigation purposes and use LORAN style ground based navigation beacons - not nearly as accurate for targeting purposes but good enough to get you where you want to go. Finally as the song says "anything you can do I can do better" so if all else fails you can always take out (or use and abuse) their GPS systems and then we get to see who was paying the most attention during their OTC navigation classes - level the playing field so to speak.
    = TIMU or “timing & inertial measurement unit”

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    Better question IMHO is what if someone manages to drop kazzillion of EMP devices on US/Nato HQs.

    Since none of this is gonna happen...
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    I didn't have GPS and neither did the two Soviet armies who was going to steamroll me!
    yes but the doctrines that came after the end of the cold war and was predicated on precision bombing and RMA in communications are now useless. Your armies today would have to go back and relearn all the lessons learned in the cold war and start engaging in very expensive restocking cold war technology armaments.

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    Technology isn't so much a crutch as it is a prothesis. What starts out as simply a help evolves quickly into a need, and it doesn't take long before the old ways are forgotten, if even available.

    A great exapmle is the simple map. When I first joined a fighter squadron (Air Force) we had a room full of maps, that had to be cut together, updated manually and labeled. Then we got a giant printer and software to do all this the modern way. "Bah", says I, "I'm sticking with my razors and markers and rubber cement, because these will always work even if the power fails". Then they took away my map room, and I pray the network is up, and the power doesn't fail. The old way is no longer an option.
    "Bother", said Poo, chambering another round.

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    Our armies will re-learn all we knew once in a month or two.Death hanging above is the best teacher.

    It's been shown to be the case in all the great wars of the past.
    Those who know don't speak
    He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36

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    I've told the story before about having to re-educate my Quartermasters (USN term for enlisted navigation specialists) in the fine art of celestial navigation because my predecessor had allowed their skill set to deteriorate. Give me a sextant and chronometer and I'll get us home. I might even get a launch box that is finite enough to make TERCOM guidance in a Tomahawk viable.

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    Global Moderator Defense Professional JAD_333's Avatar
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    Generally, transformation of everything to electronic, power requiring systems, seems to be leading us to a time when one flick of the switch will put us back into the horse and buggy era. It may be a fanciful idea not suitable to this thread.

    In any case, browsing around on the net I came across a gov website dedicated to solely to GPS questions. It confirms what has been already said in the thread.

    GPS.gov: Frequently Asked Questions


    Is it true the Air Force doesn't want to use GPS in the future because of its vulnerabilities?

    The Air Force is fully committed to continuing its operation and use of GPS in the future. The ongoing GPS modernization program will enhance the jam resistance of the military GPS service, making it more robust. At the same time, the Department of Defense is making prudent investments in alternative positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) technologies to supplement GPS in times when satellite services are unavailable. This will ensure that future troops have continuous, uninterrupted access to PNT under the most challenging conditions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by desertswo View Post
    I've told the story before about having to re-educate my Quartermasters (USN term for enlisted navigation specialists) in the fine art of celestial navigation because my predecessor had allowed their skill set to deteriorate. Give me a sextant and chronometer and I'll get us home. I might even get a launch box that is finite enough to make TERCOM guidance in a Tomahawk viable.
    Capt Aubrey would agree with you, but isn't a sextant unusable when the sky is heavily overcast?
    To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAD_333 View Post
    Capt Aubrey would agree with you, but isn't a sextant unusable when the sky is heavily overcast?
    Yeah, so you do some DRing for a few days if you have to. Not unheard of in any era. Get me horizon at dawn or twilight and at least three stars (two in a pinch) and I'll figure out where we are within 50 miles or so. Get me five or more and I'll get it down to a gnat's ass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by desertstwo View Post
    Yeah, so you do some DRing for a few days if you have to. Not unheard of in any era. Get me horizon at dawn or twilight and at least three stars (two in a pinch) and I'll figure out where we are within 50 miles or so. Get me five or more and I'll get it down to a gnat's ass.
    This was the point of my 'what if' scenario. Even though I realise it's extremely far-fetched, I still wonder about whether our servicemen and women are taught, or even made familiar with, how to do things manually in case all the electronic wizardry somehow craps its pants at the moment of truth. It seems you might be the exception to the rule?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surreal McCoy View Post
    This was the point of my 'what if' scenario. Even though I realise it's extremely far-fetched, I still wonder about whether our servicemen and women are taught, or even made familiar with, how to do things manually in case all the electronic wizardry somehow craps its pants at the moment of truth. It seems you might be the exception to the rule?
    No, I'm not the exception. At least I wasn't. I just relieved a guy who wasn't doing his job. It wasn't the only problem I found. The engineering department looked pretty, but they were adrift as well. Undertrained and not nearly as smart as a couple of their junior officers thought they were. I had just come from a two year tour as an engineering inspector for CINCPACFLT. I walked into the fire room and three hours later walked back out after writing 300 major discrepancies, any one of which would have welded them to the pier had I been in my former job. I handed the Chief Engineer the list and said, "Have a nice day." Clearly there was a new sheriff in town. They were good people though. They just hadn't been properly led or exposed to the sort of attention to detail that keeps people and equipment safe. The whole ship was like that. I did the same thing in the engine room the next day. Then I sat down with he and his senior enlisted guys and worked out a program to attack it all. Three weeks was all it took; and then maintaining that same level of attention to detail. They were fine after that. So was Weapons, and Ops, and everyone else I focused on. The key is that you don't turn into a raving asshole. You show them what's wrong and why, and how to get it right. I was able to do that because other people, both officer and enlisted had done it for me. That's how it works. It's never a one man show, and the second you start believing that is the second shit starts to go wrong.

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