Army hosts second annual PNT assessment exercise

By Caitlin ONeill, Assured Positioning, Navigation and TimingSpace Cross-Functional TeamNovember 5, 2020

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, NM – From Oct. 26 though Nov. 4, the Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cross-Functional Team (APNT CFT) hosted the second annual PNT Assessment Exercise (PNTAX). Over the course of two weeks, the team successfully assessed technologies and systems supporting APNT, Tactical Space and Navigation Warfare (NAVWAR) – to further capability analysis and requirement development.

“PNTAX helps the Army inform requirements, validate and refine concepts, address capability gaps, and assess solutions for future Army Warfighting technologies,” said Mr. Willie Nelson, Director of the APNT CFT. “To do this, we provide a live-sky GPS challenged environment for military and industry to operate their own system capabilities, collect data, and support capability assessments.”

PNTAX brought together over 300 government partners – to include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, industry personnel, soldiers, and airmen to conduct live prototype demonstrations, using various threat scenarios and assessed over 55 dismounted, mounted, static, and aerial platforms, fire systems/munitions, and NAVWAR sensor systems and architectures. Some of these platforms included the M777 Howitzer, Patriot, Stryker vehicles, and a U.S. Air Force airframes.

Soldiers from I Corps and Airmen from the 746th Test Squadron participated in the exercise to assess Brigade Combat Team and below ability to operate within a real-world anti-access/area denial environment, the ability to identify global positioning system (GPS) threats, and assess situation awareness, long-range precision targeting/firing capability, and formation requirements in theater.

“If you want to test a [specific system] you want soldiers involved that are familiar with that system,” said Capt. Donald Bolz, Army Test and Evaluation Command systems team chair for PNTAX 20. Further, he said “Live-sky testing can’t be done as effectively in the labs, so it’s important to align the right soldier to the system or technology that is being tested, who can provide accurate and informative feedback and assessment.”

“The best part of PNTAX is our ability to connect with the soldier during the prototyping phase, which influences future requirement development,” said Mr. Ben Pinx, Director of the APNT CFT Integration Directorate. “Their feedback will ensure our ability to build future systems that will ultimately improve soldier productivity and mission efficiency.”

Soldier touchpoints play a critical role for the CFT, as their feedback will directly influence the capability requirements process for emerging technologies and equipment.

“It's important to get soldiers involved in what's being developed so it can be made in a way that benefits the soldier,” said Capt. John Sexton, Joint Munitions Command lead for PNTAX 20. “We need to have an intuitive system that's easy to understand and operate in a stressful combat situation.”

“There will be a significant and overwhelming amount of data to process,” said Willie Nelson. “But the data that we get out of PNTAX will inform our future warfare efforts and ensure optimal usability for the soldier. Assessments like these enable the Army, and our Joint Partners, to remain the most lethal and effective Joint Force.”

Following a comprehensive analysis, the CFT, and its Joint Partners, will consider system capabilities and functions for future APNT and NAVWAR requirement development, nominate systems and technologies for participation in future Army Joint Warfighter and Forward Operational Assessments, and validate tactics, techniques and procedures for rapid incorporation to multi-domain task force units.

“PNTAX is crucial to the development, integration, and demonstration of the Army’s emerging Assured PNT and NAVWAR capabilities to enhance battlefield operations,” said Ben Pinx. “This exercise continues to inform our strategic modernization direction and future investment decisions. And it allows us to determine what we know, what we think we know, and what we still need to learn.”

PNTAX will be integrated with Project Convergence 21, providing a GPS-challenged operational environment to support the Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept.