Compass/Beidou Archives - Inside GNSS

Compass/Beidou

March 13, 2020

U2: BeiDou Is My Co-pilot

According to a statement by the head of U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, pilots of the elite U-2 spy plane wear watches that receive foreign GNSS signals and provide backup navigation when GPS is jammed.

“My U-2 guys fly with a watch now that ties into GPS, but also BeiDou and the Russian [GLONASS] system and the European [Galileo] system so that if somebody jams GPS, they still get the others,” said Gen. James “Mike” Holmes on March 4 at the McAleese Defense Programs Conference in Washington.

The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed “Dragon Lady,” is a single-jet engine, ultra-high altitude (70,000 feet, 21,300 meters) reconnaissance aircraft. It gathers intelligence with a variety of sensors. The U-2 is one of very few aircraft that have served the Air Force for more than 50 years, a select group that also includes the B-52 long-range bomber. The latest model, the U-2S, had a technical upgrade in 2012. [Dragon Lady photo above, courtesy Lockheed.]

Gen. Holmes did not name the watch manufacturer.

In February 2018, Garmin announced that its D2 Charlie aviator watch had been selected by the Air Force  for use by the pilots of the Lockheed U-2 aircraft. “The high-sensitivity WAAS GPS-enabled D2 Charlie aviator watch incorporates global navigation capability, rich and colorful moving maps and more, providing pilots in the USAF with an exclusive, back-up navigation timepiece in the cockpit. . . . The D2 Charlie aviator watch will be an integral and functional part of the U-2 pilot’s toolkit.”

According to the press release, Garmin expected the United States Air Force to take delivery of more than 100 D2 Charlies.

Among the sensors mentioned on Garmin’s spec sheet for the watch are GPS, GLONASS, a heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer and thermometer. BeiDou is not listed.

However, in an annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company stated: “Garmin utilizes a variety of other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) including, but not limited to . . . .The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), a Chinese satellite navigation system that is expected to have 35 operating satellites in orbit by 2020 and will provide global coverage.”

Charlie
Garmin’s D2 Charlie watch, shown here with Weather radar overlay feature. Photo: Garmin

D2 Charlie has a sapphire scratch-resistant crystal lens and a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coated titanium bezel. A sunlight-readable, high-resolution color display with LED backlight on the watch face allows pilots to view data in most lighting conditions in the cockpit. It offers up to 20 hours of battery life in GPS mode and up to 12 days in smartwatch mode. It comes with a leather wristband and a sporty silicone band.

By Inside GNSS
January 24, 2020

Qualcomm’s New Chip: More Power, More Features, Same Ol’ GNSS

In early December, Qualcomm made its annual announcement of a new chip for phones and wearables in the coming year. Qualcomm’s flagship system-on-chip will power a range of devices launching in 2020, with lots of new and exciting (to smartphone addicts) capabilities; just not much—make that nothing—new in satellite-based navigation derivatives. The company’s Snapdragon 865, succeeding the 855 which reigned during 2019, brings support for 5G, 200MP cameras, and 144Hz displays.

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By Inside GNSS
December 30, 2019

Qualcomm’s New Chip: More Power, More Features, Same Ol’ GNSS

In early December, Qualcomm made its annual announcement of a new chip for phones and wearables in the coming year. Qualcomm’s flagship system-on-chip will power a range of devices launching in 2020, with lots of new and exciting (to smartphone addicts) capabilities; just not much — make that nothing — new in satellite-based navigation derivatives.

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By Inside GNSS
December 24, 2019

Satellite Visibility to Aid Claus Mission

In lead position on a sleigh rising from the North Pole to a height of 200 meters — standard cruising altitude for global package delivery — at 2100 hours UTC on December 24 — the youngest will hopefully be asleep by then and there’s plenty of territory to cover before dawn breaks, time’s a-wasting — navigator Rudolph will see between 40 and 45 GNSS satellites glistening in the night sky.

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By Inside GNSS

BeiDou Constellation Has 39 Satellites, Completion Planned for 2020

The Chinese are closing in on the completion of the BeiDou constellation with 39 satellites now on-orbit and more launches planned, an official told a conference on aerospace technology innovation.

Yang Jun, deputy director of China’s Satellite Navigation System Management Office, told attendees at the Shanghai event that the plan is to loft five to seven more satellites into place this year and another two to four in 2020, according to the Xinhua news agency.

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By Inside GNSS
April 17, 2019

10th China Satellite Navigation Conference Opens May 22

The China Satellite Navigation Conference (CSNC) is an open academic platform for academic exchanges that aims at enhancing academic innovation to promote cooperation and exchanges in the field of satellite navigation. The event, which opens May 22, also is designed at strengthening technological innovation to accelerate engineering construction of satellite navigation systems, intensifying theoretical innovation to facilitate theory progress of satellite navigation and reinforcing application innovation to boost development of the satellite navigation industry.

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By Inside GNSS
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