The United States Air Force never really wanted GPS. The 621B program, the precursor to GPS, was underfunded. After it evolved into the GPS program in the early 1970s, the Air Force largely neglected it, to the point of disowning it and defunding it. A few times, it tried to kill its own creation, and GPS was kept alive by the Pentagon’s largesse…
One reason the Air Force was slow to embrace GPS is the space-based projects were never seen as a priority. “The Air Force is not a big user of space,” says Scott Page..”The Air Force gets to build for space, but the Marine Corps, Army, and Navy are much more reliant on actual space services than the Air Force itself is. The budget for space is in the Air Force, but in terms of the number of customers and users, they’re all in the other services.
Another source said “…the Air Force is pilots who fly planes.”
That is from Greg Milner’s new and interesting book Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds.
Milner also relates how the park rangers in Death Valley National Park have the term “death by GPS.” It refers to park users who follow their GPS and then die:
It describes what happens when GPS fails you, not by being wrong, exactly, but often by being too right. It does such a good job of computing the most direct route from Point A to Point B that it takes you down roads which barely exist, or were used at one time and abandoned, or are not suitable for your car, or which require all kinds of local knowledge that would make you aware that making that turn is bad news.