GPS-Aided Guidance for Ballistic Missile Applications

An Assessment

by Gerald P. Frost, Irving Lachow

The proliferation of Third World ballistic missiles is a major concern for the U.S. government. These missiles can carry weapons of mass destruction, can reach targets quickly, and are difficult to intercept. To date, this concern has been somewhat mitigated because these missiles are relatively inaccurate. But the potential for improving the accuracy of these missiles by using the Global Positioning System makes them a greater threat. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of U.S. control policies as they pertain to ballistic missiles, focusing on those with ranges of 300-1000 km. It quantifies the errors that affect missile accuracy and assesses the improvement that could occur by using GPS-aided inertial guidance. The paper concludes that GPS-aiding can improve the accuracy of short- and medium-range missiles by approximately 20-25 percent and that Selective Availability has almost no effect on accuracy.

Originally published in: 50 Years of Navigation Progress from Art to Utility, Proceedings of the 51st Annual Meeting of the Institute of Navigation, June 5-7 1995, pp. 529-536.

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