Air Force Space Command is beginning to beam civilian navigation and safety messages from GPS satellites capable of handling the new broadcast signals, announced the Pentagon. The new messaging capability entails use of the L2C commercial signal and L5 safety-of-life signal that the Air Force is adding as part of GPS modernization. They open the door for commercial development of a “more robust position, navigation, and timing solution available to the civilian public,” said Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler, the Pentagon’s deputy chief for information infrastructure, in an April 25 release. AFSPC plans to begin low-accuracy, pre-operational broadcasts to test equipment this week, followed by the launch of daily updates with more accurate, operational signals in December, according to the release. Officials advised the public to use the signals at their own risk until the capability is fully operational. “We do not anticipate any GPS satellite outages or legacy degradations as a result of the pre-operational deployment of these frequencies,” said Wheeler.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.