The number of GPS satellites in operation will increase over the next couple of years from 24 to 27. Driving this increase, in part, is the need for increased GPS coverage and accuracy in Afghanistan. That country’s deep valleys and steep mountainous terrain make GPS coverage spotty or non-existent in some areas, hampering the ability of the U.S. military to operate as needed. The additional satellites will also benefit other users of GPS technology with the improved signals.
Read more: More Satellites Will Act as Eyes for Troops – NY Times
A recent conference hosted by the Digital Systems Knowledge Transfer Network in the United Kingdom called attention to the vulnerability of GPS units to jamming. “The strength of a GPS signal is about as strong as viewing a 25W light bulb from a satellite 10,000 miles away,” said Bob Cockshott, a director of the Digital Systems KTN. “It’s no surprise then that GPS signals are vulnerable to natural and, increasingly, criminal interruptions.” The conference also noted that thieves are used illegal GPS jammers imported from China to help them steal cars and trucks.
Read more: Jamming of GPS signals threatens vital services – Financial Times
Earlier this month, researchers warned that the increase in solar activity will have an impact on the reliability of satellite navigation systems. Over the next few years, the sun will build up to its peak of activity causing disruption in navigation devices.
Read more: Sat-nav devices face big errors as solar activity rises – BBC News