Military Applications of Time and Frequency

R. L. Beard, J. D. White, J. A. Murray

Abstract: The introduction of the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) to the military community is having an lesser known, but highly significant, impact on those systems requiring dissemination of precise time and frequency. Precise time/frequency and their uses could have a wider ranging influence on military electronic systems than the positioning/navigation aspects. The implications are not as well known or recognized. Time and Frequency (T/F) are a fundamental function needed by all military electronic equipment. From generation of frequencies for communications to remote sensing of geophysical quantities with time-tagged data requires oscillators, T/F standards, and/or clocks. The application and requirements for these standards and their maintenance of them onto a common timescale is a specialist's area often overlooked in the development and deployment of these systems, only to be addressed later as a operational problem area. The wide spectrum of applications and uses for timing devices within military systems can be categorized into different system types: (1) navigation, (2) communications, (3) identification, (4) remote sensing, (5) intelligence, and (6) weapons. In addition to using T/F devices and technology, military electronic systems are on diverse platforms, which operate most effectively in a highly coordinated, interactive environment. This requires all units and elements of the operating forces to be referenced to the same time. U.S. military systems are required to be referenced to Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) maintained by the U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO), designated UTC(USNO). From this central reference, time is disseminated through various existing military and scientific systems. Navigation systems are the most immediate and well-known users of T/F and from this fact are the primary systems used for T/F dissemination. Heretofore, a single system has not had the capability of widely disseminating precise time; consequently, many different systems with different capabilities have been used. Today the NAVSTAR GPS provides a general purpose, highly precise means of disseminating time and has been used operationally since the first technology satellites of the system were launched. This paper summarizes the areas and application of precise time and frequency uses in military systems with specific examples.
Published in: Proceedings of the 28th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting
December 3 - 5, 1996
Hyatt Regency Reston Town Center
Reston, Virginia
Pages: 125 - 140
Cite this article: Beard, R. L., White, J. D., Murray, J. A., "Military Applications of Time and Frequency," Proceedings of the 28th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting, Reston, Virginia, December 1996, pp. 125-140.
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