The 2nd Space Operations Squadron took formal command of Architecture Evolution Plan 7.5, the largest GPS architectural change in operational history, after its successful installation at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado on Nov 16, 2018.
“AEP 7.5 is a milestone in GPS history and improves our cybersecurity capabilities and postures us to better operate in a contested, degraded and operationally limited environment,” said 1st Lieutenant Jonathan Campbell, 2nd SOPS assistant operations flight commander, in an Air Force press release.
The 2nd SOPS installation replaced 600,000 lines of code in AEP and implemented more than $29 million worth of hardware and software changes.
Additionally, AEP 7.5 sets the platform for the installation of AEP 8.0, which will deliver the capability to command and control GPS III satellite vehicles – the first GPS III satellite scheduled to be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, later this month.
Campbell said AEP 7.5 is a significant step up from the previous AEP 7.3, with overall improvements allowing Airmen to command and control satellites with better efficiency.
The program’s successful installation was the result of extensive training from a Mission Operations Transfer at the squadron’s Alternate Master Control Station at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Both rotations of the Space Mission Force crew structure were activated to ensure full operational capabilities at both sites, performing security control assessments on the system and taking other measures.
“Training consisted of acclimating to AEP 7.5, learning how to navigate it and utilize it to the best capability,” said Senior Airman Ryan Lape, 2nd SOPS satellite systems operator. “Because our constellation was so big, upon taking command at Schriever we had to iron out the changes on a large scale.”
Campbell said the hard work was worth it – the successful installation and command of AEP 7.5 through the squadron’s efforts will prepare for changes in the near future.
“This will provide combat ready space warfighters delivering position, navigation and timing to optimize the full range of Air Force, joint force and civilian operations, across all domains,” he said. “The updated hardware provided in the AEP 7.5 installation lays the foundation for a software update next year enabling the command and control of GPS Block III vehicles.”
Campbell added not only will the installation advance the 2nd SOPS’s mission, but the 50th Space Wing’s as well, helping evolve space and cyberspace warfighting superiority through integrative and innovative operations.
“The capabilities provided in this update, and those coming in the next year, provide a significant improvement to our warfighters,” he said.
With this milestone, Campbell said the continuation of the U.S. military’s dominance in position navigation and timing systems is secured.
“This update furthers the U.S. military’s and Schriever AFB’s position as the center of satellite command and control and space operations,” he said.
Lape said the milestone will make an impact outside of the military as well.
“We are the premier PNT system in the world with the largest satellite constellation,” he said. “With measures like these, it will definitely make our adversaries think twice.”