Boeing won't take no for an answer on IGPS

GCN Insider | Products & trends that affect the way government uses technology

DOWN TO DETAILS: Boeing's iGPS uses data from Iridium satellites and can locate objects within a centimeter.

Despite uncertain funding, Boeing officials remain bullish about potentially groundbreaking technology the aerospace firm is developing to enhance the functionality of conventional Global Positioning System services.

Boeing's iGPS technology augments regular GPS signals with data from Boeing's Iridium constellation of low-Earth-orbit satellites to offer more precise geographical positioning capabilities and better protection against jamming of GPS transmissions.

Boeing started developing iGPS in 2002 primarily for use by the Defense Department, Boeing executives said. Based on doubts about the workability of the technology, the House Armed Services Committee in May denied an $81 million 2008 funding request by DOD for further work on the concept. But Boeing hasn't backed off from its iGPS concept and this month said it proved that the technology delivers as promised in an operational test conducted in mid-June with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and other participants.

The tests demonstrated that iGPS provides geographic positioning data to within a centimeter, a vast improvement over conventional GPS' one-meter resolution, said David Whelan, Boeing's vice president of strategic growth.

The technology's advancements result from augmenting conventional GPS service with more precise electronic timekeeping capabilities and stronger satellite signals. In addition to more precise pinpointing of a target device, iGPS employs Iridium's more powerful satellite signals to provide greater protection from interference by extraneous signals, whether they're from battlefield noise or the result of intentional jamming efforts, Boeing said.

Despite the latest funding setback, Boeing said it's on track to deliver the system to DOD users by 2010, including the uploading of software modifications to Iridium and the design and delivery of 1,000 handheld iGPS units.

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