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Raytheon has recently been awarded a $234 million contract to produce 23 Joint Precision Approach and Landing Systems (JPALS) by the United States Navy.
JPALS is a system which uses GPS to help precisely direct pilots and their aircraft towards landing. Each system is intended to be installed on all of the Navy’s amphibious assault ships and nuclear powered aircraft carriers.
The system’s biggest benefit is that it enables aircraft to land in almost all weather and surface conditions, thus making it less likely for operations to be cancelled due to bad weather or low visibility.
Unlike similar existing systems, JPALS encrypts its signals so that it is very unlikely for an enemy to intercept signals and track where they are coming from. That is why the military often uses JPALS.
Naval-Technology.com reports that JPALS began guiding F-35B pilots to land onto the USS Wasp during deployed operations last year.
Furthermore, last April, Raytheon has demonstrated a mobile land variant of the JPALS system. This version offers the same benefits from the ship-installed variants, however the land based system is mobile and meant to be used on ground based runways. The system proved successful, F-35B pilots were able to precisely and easily land on the ground using the system from over 200 nautical miles away.
The mobile ground version of JPALS comes in five cases. The system can also be repackaged to fit in small transit vehicles.
It takes about an hour and a half to set up the system on the ground. Ground based JPALS will assist Air Force pilots to operate aircraft from difficult runways in remote locations. Possibly working in collaboration with the United States Air Force’s Project Medusa, which is an effort to “grow” makeshift runways for aircraft in remote locations by using certain bacteria.