Military GPS Is Not Necessarily More Accurate than Civilian GPS


The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a series of orbiting satellites that provides precise navigational data to military and civilian users around the world. The U.S. Air Force operates the GPS Master Control Station from the 50th Space Wing at the Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. This does not mean, however, that military GPS is automatically more accurate than civilian GPS.

Differentiating Military and Civilian GPS Accuracy

The U.S. Air Force may be operating the GPS Master Control Station but, in terms of GPS navigation, the government does not necessarily have an edge over civilians. GPS signals have the same user range error (URE) regardless of who is using the navigation services.

The difference lies in the frequency. Military receivers use two GPS frequencies for improved accuracy whereas civilian devices usually have just one GPS frequency.

Catching Up to Military GPS Equipment

The military uses dual-frequency equipment to avoid signal distortions that could jeopardize their mission or research. This type of equipment is not exclusive for government use, though. Dual-frequency GPS equipment is available in the commercial market; civilians may use it for professional applications.

Civilians may also use augmentation systems to improve GPS accuracy. Such systems may even give them better accuracy than military equipment affords.

Improving Accuracy with Augmentation Systems

The U.S. government has made a number of augmentation systems available to both public and private sectors. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Nationwide Differential GPS System (NDGPS)
  • Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS)
  • Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS)
  • Global Differential GPS (GDGPS)
  • International GNSS Service (IGS)
  • The augmentation systems are available for government and commercial use. They are available for differential, static, and real-time techniques.

If your line of work requires GPS navigation and a GPS signal generator—whether it is for military or civilian use—feel free to call us about it today.

September 1, 2017