Joint Precision Approach and Landing Systems

Jet landing on the deck of a ship with a crewman giving the thumbs up.

Landing guidance with pinpoint accuracy

Joint Precision Approach and Landing Systems, or JPALS, is a differential, GPS-based precision landing system that guides aircraft onto carriers and amphibious assault ships in all weather and surface conditions up to the rough waters of Sea State 5. It uses an encrypted, jam-proof data link to connect to software and receiver hardware on the aircraft and an array of GPS sensors, mast-mounted antennas and shipboard equipment.

Modernization of landing systems on legacy aircraft

Precision landing systems originated in 1996 when a U.S. Air Force T-43A failed in its attempt to land on a non-precision approach mission to Dubrovnik, Croatia. As a reactionary measure, the Department of Defense published a precision-landing requirement to make the systems more capable. From there, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, created the framework for its JPALS program, and in 2008, it partnered with the U.S Navy to begin developing the technology to enhance aircraft landing systems.

In the summer of 2018, U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fighters, deployed to the Pacific aboard the USS Wasp amphibious assault ship, began using the JPALS system to guide them onto the carrier’s deck. JPALS is also installed on the F-35A and F-35C Joint Strike Fighter.

The MQ-25A multi-mission unmanned vehicle, also known as the Stingray, will be JPALS equipped. This unmanned carrier air system will provide inflight refueling to the U.S. Navy’s fighters, allowing them to extend their ranges much further.

JPALS for the Air Force

Raytheon Intelligence & Space believes the USAF could benefit from using JPALS to support expeditionary operations. The system enhances operations in harsh environments, giving aircraft capability when it comes to precision landings in challenging terrain conditions. JPALS provides straight, curved and multi-segmented precision approach capabilities and has the capacity to support up to 50 different approaches to touchdown points within a 20 nautical mile radius.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.