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Chinese military wants GPS system to be made more secure

The Beidou or Compass system of China. A CAST photo

BEIJING (PTI): Two days after China started its own GPS network aimed to rival the US global positioning system, the nation's powerful military, which is using it extensively, has asked researchers to improve its security and ability to stop external interference.

Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of China, the highest military body asked researchers to properly maintain home-grown navigation system, so that it can provide steady and reliable services for the country's economic development and military combat preparations.

Researchers need to beef up the security measures of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) and increase its capacity to ward off interference, Fan was quoted by the official media as saying.

The BDS began providing services to civilian users in China and surrounding areas in the Asia-Pacific region two days ago.

The general functionality and performance of the BDS is "comparable" to the GPS system, but cheaper, a spokesman for the system said.

Fan said the system has broken China's reliance on foreign navigation systems and carries great significance in safeguarding national security and promoting economic development.

The CMC congratulated the officials for the launch of the BDS which makes China the third country after the US and Russia to have the system.

China started its initial research on the system in 1985, and the project is named after the seven-star cluster known in English as the Big Dipper.

China launched the first satellite for the BDS in 2000, and a preliminary version of the system has been used in traffic control, weather forecasting and disaster relief work on a trial basis since 2003.

At present, the system has over 1.30 lakh military and civilian users, including those in the financial, power, fishery and fire-fighting sectors, and it served as an important means of communication during the relief work following the devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake in May 2008 in Sichuan's Wenchuan County, state-run Xinhua news agency report said.

Ran Chengqi, a spokesman for the system, said the system aims to take 70 to 80 percent of the now GPS-dominated domestic market by 2020.

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