Global Insider: Global Navigation Satellite Systems

A number of attempts to create alternatives to the U.S. Global Positioning System are underway. Russia is close to completing its GLONASS system, which India plans to join, while China is working on developing its own system. In an email interview, Charles Vick, senior technical and policy analyst for GlobalSecurity.org, discussed global satellite navigation systems.

WPR: What countries are currently pursuing a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) capability and what is the status of their programs?

Charles Vick: The Global Positioning System (GPS), the global navigation system developed by the U.S., remains the primary system used by both the military and civil sectors of nations that have the operating and receiving system hardware. Russia is developing a GNSS capability, based on the former Soviet Union's heritage system, GLONASS. China is trying to catch up with its Beidou (Big Dipper) system. Beidou is being developed with a series of military satellites and a separate, second series for civil use in order to meet Beijing's geopolitical and national defense requirements. In addition, the European Space Agency (ESA) is trying to develop its own competitive system, the Galileo Navigation Satellite System.

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