ROSE BARRACKS, VILSECK, Germany -- Members of Project Manager Positioning Navigation and Timing (PM PNT) landed in Germany in early September with a mission: outfitting Soldiers' Stryker vehicles with the latest in Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) equipment in cooperation with U.S. Army Europe, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, the Assured Positioning Navigation and Timing Cross Functional Team (APNT CFT), TRADOC Capability Manager - Tactical Radios (TCM-TR) and the mechanics of the Rose Barracks motor pool. The team's objective for the month of September was outfitting a large number of Stryker vehicles with the latest in improvements to augment and secure the main function of GPS equipment.
That equipment is the Mounted Assured PNT (Positioning, Navigation and Timing) System (MAPS) Generation 1, (MAPS GEN I), a powerful suite of new hardware and software that will ensure Soldiers have assured position and timing to navigate in a GPS degraded and denied environment. As adversaries across the spectrum field new capabilities to disrupt and degrade GPS, Soldiers will need more fortifications and assurances in those systems. The MAPS Directed Requirement was approved in January of this year, which was the first step to ensuring Soldiers receive the most modern PNT equipment as it becomes available.
"There were numerous challenges in developing the MAPS requirement," said Willie Nelson, Director, Assured Positioning Navigation and Timing Cross Functional Team (APNT CFT). "Because almost all combat and combat support systems require GPS in some way, developing a requirements document that would encompass them while staying affordable posed its challenges."
"The initial requirement took a systems-of-systems approach, which was difficult to get through the Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC) and Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) process. The CFT made the decision to break-up the large requirement to smaller, focused requirements and to condense the requirement document to only seven pages in length."
"This makes it much easier to understand," said Nelson, "and it took only 3 months to get the MAPS Directed Requirement approved, which was a big win for the CFT, the Army, and most importantly, the Soldier."
"Using analytics and modeling and simulation analyses," said Nelson, "the CFT is incorporating new ways to challenge the APNT problem set and has been yielding excellent results in developing a requirements document that will provide the Soldier with the right amount of PNT information at the right time under any condition."
Jim Spofford, the Assistant Product Manager for PM PNT, and part of his team, spent September ensuring the installation of and training for the physical components that make up MAPS GEN I. Working out of the motor pool on Rose Barracks, even on weekends, they ensured technicians had a clear picture of how to install the hardware and the connecting cables and ensured that the hardware was functioning properly.
MAPS simplifies the mounted PNT capability. MAPS distributes PNT data to multiple systems directly and via the network, replacing the need for multiple GPS devices on a single platform.
"This technology gets rid of the multitude of redundant PNT devices and distributes APNT across multiple devices on one platform. When paired with an Anti-Jam Antenna System (AJAS), it allows our mounted Soldiers to operate in denied environments," said Lt. Col. Alexander "Raz" Rasmussen, Product Manager for Mounted Positioning Navigation and Timing.
"This is the first time this type of mounted system with APNT has been equipped on these vehicles, giving our warfighters better anti-spoof and anti-jam capabilities than ever before," said Rasmussen. "Secondly, this is the first equipping that has been executed under an Army Futures Command mandated requirement with a CFT. Through our partnership we have been able to produce this capability with unprecedented speed."
Part of that speed was seen by the team on the ground; as each day the motor pool became more and more adept at the installation process. Initially installation would take four days but by the end of September, the MAPS hardware system install would be completed the same day it was started, completing multiple vehicles in one day in some cases.
The team also gathered information directly from Soldiers, "We have learned a lot by way of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment's Soldier touchpoints," said Rasmussen. "From the privates to officers, the feedback on the technology will help shape mounted APNT solutions for years to come."
Hardware installation, while a major part of the job, wouldn't have meant much without training.
Every day other members of PM PNT, with assistance from U.S. Army's Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC), gave extensive New Equipment Training to two squads to half a platoon worth of Soldiers daily, first ensuring they knew the parts of the MAPS system, how and why it was needed and how it works, closing out each day with a hands on exercise inside one of the freshly upgraded Strykers. The team's goal was set at training up roughly a company's worth of Soldiers being trained before they left.
Joan Rousseau, Chief, Army Space Training Program Integration, USASMDC, gave the Soldiers the basic premise of signal power and effects, likening them to waves in a pond. Rousseau kept the concepts broad before turning it over to Dan Sweet and Ray Johnson, both trainers with PM PNT, who detailed how MAPS systems provide protection and bolstered capability in signal denied or degraded environments and how Soldiers can use the system for that. From the classroom, Sweet and Johnson took the class back to the motor pool to get hands on experience with installed MAPS systems and practice trouble shooting.
"This new system is able to be more flexible than the older DAGR system," said Spc. Connor Anderson, an Infantryman who took the MAPS Generation I familiarization training. "The old DAGR was only able to serve one client system. MAPS can serve up to seven. Today they taught us the ins and outs, zeroizing [erasing sensitive information from any piece of hardware] and making sure the system actually functions properly."
"The system gives Soldiers flexibility," Anderson said.
"The protection that MAPS GEN I provides from GPS jamming enables Soldiers to confidently shoot, move, and communicate," said Col. Nick Kioutas, the Project Manager Positioning Navigation and Timing.
Looking ahead, Kioutas and PM PNT are already preparing for the future of MAPS.
"The next generation of MAPS is already on its way," said Kioutas. "MAPS GEN II upselect has just been awarded via an Other Transaction Authority (OTA). The MAPS GEN II will improve upon the MAPS GEN I in capabilities, particularly in the areas of availability and integrity. We will take lessons learned from the equipping here and apply them to the next generation of MAPS, guaranteeing our Soldiers will always have the best solution."
The CFT is working toward the future from their side as well, said Nelson.
"The APNT CFT is leading a Modeling & Simulation (M&S) effort that will simulate dynamic GPS scenarios to assess current and emerging APNT, Space, and Navigation Warfare (NAVWAR) technologies," said Nelson. "The primary focus is to baseline how GPS is used for mission thread analyses and assist the Army in determining where complementary PNT sensors will enhance mission effectiveness."
"This will enable GPS challenged environments to be transitioned into meaningful mission effectiveness models that can inform commanders, the requirements community and acquisition managers," said Nelson.