The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. The system provides critical capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. The United States government created the system, maintains it, and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.
As of 2009, military GPS applications include:
- Navigation: Soldiers use GPS to find objectives, even in the dark or in unfamiliar territory, and to coordinate troop and supply movement. In the United States armed forces, commanders use the Commanders Digital Assistant and lower ranks use the Soldier Digital Assistant.
- Target tracking: Various military weapons systems use GPS to track potential ground and air targets before flagging them as hostile. These weapon systems pass target coordinates to precision-guided munitions to allow them to engage targets accurately. Military aircraft, particularly in air-to-ground roles, use GPS to find targets.
- Missile and projectile guidance: GPS allows accurate targeting of various military weapons including ICBMs, cruise missiles, precision-guided munitions and Artillery projectiles. Embedded GPS receivers able to withstand accelerations of 12,000 g or about 118 km/s2 have been developed for use in 155-millimeter (6.1 in) howitzers.
- Search and rescue.
- Reconnaissance: Patrol movement can be managed more closely.
- GPS satellites carry a set of nuclear detonation detectors consisting of an optical sensor (Y-sensor), an X-ray sensor, a dosimeter, and an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) sensor (W-sensor), that form a major portion of the United States Nuclear Detonation Detection System.
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