USAF Completes Test Milestone for Next-Gen GPS Controls (Video)

Raytheon has reached another milestone in its development of the US Air Force’s Global Positioning System Next Generation Operational Control System, known as GPS OCX.

This new system offers significant improvements to the GPS on which the U.S. military and millions of civilians rely, including enhanced availability, accuracy and security.

(GPS OCX is set to deliver vast improvements to the nation’s Global Positioning System. Courtesy of Raytheon and YouTube)

OCX’s development is delivered in “blocks,” with Block 0 comprising the Launch and Checkout System to take GPS III satellites into early orbit.

Block 1 is built on Block 0 and delivers the full OCX capability, which allows the Air Force to transition from its current GPS ground controls to the modernized and secure GPS OCX master control station.

Raytheon recently completed a series of Risk Reduction functional checkouts of OCX Block 1 capabilities, with a focus on OCX software.

This latest development activity integrated iteration 1.5 of the OCX Block 1 Master Control Station with the GPS System Simulator and ran operational scenarios, representing the first end-to-end integration of available Block 1 capabilities.

(Watch how the modernized Operational Control System, the brains of our nation’s Global Positioning System, will unlock capabilities and improve performance. Courtesy of Raytheon and YouTube) 

The testing included GPS constellation management and sustainment, demonstrating OCX’s abilities for precision navigation and timing capabilities in a fully cyber-hardened environment.

The test included running Kalman filters and generating GPS satellite navigation uploads.

The completion of the Risk Reduction functional checkout informs and benefits future OCX development efforts. Future development will add to the existing capability and expand capability to include both the civil and military modernized signals.

The U.S. Air Force-led GPS Modernization Program will yield new positioning, navigation and timing capabilities for both the U.S. military and civilian users across the globe.

The Next Generation Operational Control System
They may look like giant golf balls on the outside, but radomes – like this one in Colorado – are the primary link for systems like GPS OCX and the satellites they operate. (Image Credit: Raytheon)


1. Dramatic Performance Improvement

The effectiveness of the GPS system and its signals are measured in three ways:


  • The accuracy of GPS time and location information is essential for a wide range of applications, including navigation, cell phone service, military targeting, etc.


  • The GPS system must be available and trustworthy at all times, anywhere in the world.


  • Users of the GPS system, whether military, civilian or commercial, must have complete confidence that the GPS signal has not been compromised in any way.
  • OCX will improve and enhance all three performance areas.
  • End users will enjoy twice the accuracy of the current system, and because OCX lifts the limit on the number of satellites in the GPS constellation, signal strength will be much stronger in hard-to-reach areas like dense city streets and mountainous terrain.
  • To make sure those signals are secure and trustworthy, OCX is integrating the same algorithms used in the FAA’s Wide Area Augmentation System and employing digital signatures on all critical external interfaces. These technologies will give GPS users an unprecedented level of system integrity.

2. Unparalleled Cyber Protection

  • To protect GPS from cyber threats that could compromise or interrupt the system, OCX is implementing DODI 8500.2 “Defense in Depth” information assurance standards, coupled with a wide range of proprietary cybersecurity technologies and techniques designed to harden its cyber defenses while complying with the US military and government cyber standards.
  • In short, GPS OCX is designed to be the most secure ground system, ever.

3. Secure Information Sharing

  • The “internet of things” depends on fast, secure, automated information sharing. In the past, key information like clock and satellite position corrections were only available through rigid, point-to-point interfaces, and only to a very small number of users.
  • GPS OCX will introduce a single, net-centric interface that employs state-of-the-art encryption technologies, enabling secure sharing of that information quickly and accurately, with a larger user group, when and where it’s needed. 

4. Modern Civil and Military Signal Compatibility

  • The current GPS ground control system wasn’t designed to process the newest types of navigation signals. As such, offline tools are enabling current satellites to broadcast modern civil signals.
  • The new M-code military signal, which is more accurate and jam/spoof resistant than existing signals, isn’t supported by the current system at all.
  • OCX will offer full backward and forward compatibility with all existing civil and military signals.
  • OCX will also introduce L1C signal compatibility with navigation systems deployed by Russia, Europe, China, Japan and India, giving users access to a much larger, more accurate network of satellites and improving coverage worldwide.

5. A Flexible, Open Architecture Built for the Future

  • Unlike previous generations of GPS ground systems, which were built on proprietary, closed architectures, the new GPS OCX ground system represents a departure from the past by embracing open systems.
  • A service-oriented architecture, modular sub-systems, and the ability to easily integrate new capabilities and signals as they become available will eliminate the need to re-architect the system as its mission evolves.
  • This approach gives OCX significant flexibility to meet future needs, and extends the life expectancy of the system.

(Learn More. Raytheon has the right technology and a team of experts in place to deliver on GPS modernization needs for both the Air Force and users well into the future. Courtesy of Raytheon and YouTube)

GPS OCX is being developed by Raytheon under contract to the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, which is replacing the current GPS operational control system.

GPS OCX provides a number of significant modernized capabilities for GPS users, including robust cybersecurity and deployment of jam-resistant, operational military code, or M-code.

The OCX Launch and Checkout System provides an early delivery of much of the overall block 1 OCX capability, and will support the GPS III satellite launches.


Raytheon, headquartered in Waltham, Mass., is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity solutions.

With a history of innovation spanning 94 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration, C5I™ products and services, sensing, effects, and mission support for customers in more than 80 countries.