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China's Compass -- friendly GPS clone or Galileo bluff?


Ryan Caron over at Defense Tech has some hefty analysis on China's plans for their very own satellite navigation system, named Compass. No one is really clear what China's intentions for the system are, with rumors ranging from a minor upgrade to their regional Beidou system, to a full-on competitor to USA's GPS and Europe's Galileo. So far the most solid step China has taken towards actually building the system is an order of 18-20 rubidium atomic clocks that are necessary for syncing up satellites, but which have many other military uses. Ryan theorizes that China might just be bluffing about building a system of their own, in a bid to regain a piece of the Galileo pie, which they, along with all other non-European countries, have been unceremoniously written out of starting next year. More alarmingly, a global satnav system run by China would have the potential to operate as a jammer of US and European signals, another reason the various groups involved are so guarded with their systems. However it plays out, China currently has 32 satellite slots registered with the International Telecommunications Union for Compass, and bluff or not, there's a lot of potential there.

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