First developed during World War II to help vessels navigate U.S. coastal waters, the terrestrial-based, long-range radio navigation system known as Loran-C, has expanded over the years as a navigational aid for military and civilian aircraft and sea-going vessels. But critics say GPS has rendered Loran-C obsolete.
The Obama administration wants to terminate the program, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, to save $190 million and pay for commercial aviation security measures. But some lawmakers aren’t so sure.
The administration wants to terminate the navigation system to help offset a requested $802 million increase in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) budget to pay for more passenger and baggage screening. The Department of Homeland Security -- parent of both the TSA and Coast Guard – says GPS has rendered Loran-C unnecessary.
But the House and Senate appropriations committees are split over Loran-C.
The Senate panel appropriated an additional $18 million to keep Loran-C going to Jan. 4, 2010 and provide for its orderly termination – provided the Coast Guard certifies is not needed as a backup to GPS. But the House Appropriations Committee has rejected killing Loran-C as requested in the Fiscal 2010 Homeland Security spending bill.
Next stop, the House and Senate floors, possibly as soon as this week.