BAE Systems to make military GPS units the size of a postage stamp in Iowa
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Tribune News Service) — One of Cedar Rapids' newest major employers has big expectations for a product about the size of a postage stamp.
BAE Systems, which acquired Collins Aerospace's military Global Positioning System business in 2020, plans to produce about 20,000 MicroGRAM-M military GPS receivers per year in Cedar Rapids.
The MicroGRAM-M will be BAE Systems' smallest, most energy-efficient and lightest GPS receiver, the company said.
"If you think about the GPS chip in your phone, in your car, in your iPad or in one of those little drones you buy at Best Buy, it's that little GPS engine that provides position and timing to the system," said Greg Wild, BAE Systems' director of navigation and sensor systems.
"The MicroGRAM-M does that with special characteristics."
Unlike the GPS in a smartphone, BAE Systems' product includes anti-jamming and anti-spoofing technology that prevents enemies from disrupting GPS signals.
Before unveiling the postage-stamp-sized product, BAE Systems' smallest military-grade GPS receiver was about the size of a credit card, Wild said.
Most military equipment that uses BAE Systems' GPS units are battery powered, he noted, making the increased energy efficiency of the MicroGRAM-M especially important.
The improved efficiency "means that your batteries will last longer, which reduces the amount of charging," Wild said. "If you're replacing batteries, it's less batteries the soldier has to carry with them, which is a huge advantage."
He said production will begin at a "few thousand" annually before eventually reaching 20,000 as customers upgrade from older technology to BAE Systems' M-Code equipment.
BAE Systems broke ground in 2020 on a $139 million classified defense aerospace facility in southwest Cedar Rapids, which is expected to be complete by September 2022. BAE Systems has been working in Collins Aerospace facilities in the meantime.
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