The U.S. Air Force approved $395 million worth of contract options for Lockheed Martin Corp. to start production of the ninth and tenth Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellites. The first eight GPS III satellites are under contract and two “vehicles” are in production at Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility near Denver.
The new contract provides funding for both long-lead items and full production for the next two space vehicles (SVs) in the USAF’s “next generation” GPS III constellation.
The U.S. Global Positioning System was established in 1995. It is a global network of navigation satellite that provide location and time information anywhere on or near the Earth, for an array of official government, defense, commercial, and consumer uses.
Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract in 2008 to modernize the GPS “satellite constellation,” starting with two new satellites. The OEM claims that its GPS III system will improve positioning, navigation, and timing services, and offer advanced anti-jam capabilities, resulting in superior system security, accuracy and reliability. Lockheed also noted that GPS III’s new L1C civil signal would make it the first GPS satellite that is interoperable with other international, global navigation satellite systems.
Lockheed is conducting the final testing and integration work on the first GPS III satellite, GPS III SV01, which it will deliver it to USAF later this year. The second satellite, GPS III SV02, will have its major functional systems integrated into one space vehicle its own testing phase begins.
GPS III SV03 is being assembled now in a clean room at the Colorado operation.
The third and fourth satellites of the GPS III constellation were contracted in 2012. SV 05 and 06 were assigned to Lockheed in 2013, followed by SV 07 and 08 in 2014.
“Lockheed Martin is proud to be working with the Air Force to bring GPS III’s tremendous new capabilities to the men and women in our armed forces, as well as to the world,” stated Mark Stewart, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Navigation Systems. “Our industry team, comprising more than 250 aerospace companies across 29 states, is committed to making GPS III a reality.”