The US Air Force has awarded Canberra-based firm Locata a “sole source” contract to install a ground-based version of GPS over 2,500 square miles (6,475 sq/km) of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico as part of a program to develop a practical supplement to GPS.
Called LocataNet, the navigation system completed its latest phase of testing at White Sands last December. It uses technology very similar to satellite-based GPS and provides navigational fixes as accurate as GPS in areas where GPS is not available or may be degraded. In fact, to the user it is almost identical to GPS. It’s a receive-only system where the user only needs to receive a signal from the ground-based transmitters, it can serve an unlimited number of receivers, and has an accuracy of 2.5 inches (6 cm) horizontally and 6 inches (15 cm) vertically at a height of 25,000 feet (7,620 m) while travelling 350 mph (304 knots, 563 km/h).