Lockheed Wins Contract for More GPS Satellites

by: Matthew Potter
January 17, 2012

Category: Business Line, commercial aviation, Companies, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Lockheed Martin, logistics, Military Aviation, Satellites, Services, space, U.S. Air Force | RSS 2.0

Even though the U.S. defense budget and spending overall will decline in the next few years there is no doubt certain critical modernization and support programs that need to be funded. One of these is the U.S. investment in the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system. The United States military developed the system and has launched several satellites over the last thirty years and is now in the process of carrying out a program to build and place into orbit the GPS III Constellation.

GPS is now used not only for navigation of ships and aircraft as originally intended but also to support ground movement and provide guidance and targeting data for a host of weapons and unmanned vehicles. This is not even considering the capability it provides to the civilian world as well. In the near future GPS will become critical to international and national air traffic control and guidance as while the U.S. upgrades its system the European Union and Russia are deploying their own advanced constellation of updated satellites to provide similar capability.

The Block IIIA satellites have been under development and production by Lockheed Martin (LMT) and other contractors since 2008 when the program passed its Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) review. In early FY11 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report stating that the program was facing development and deployment delays due to not awarding the contract for the new satellites in a timely manner. This could lead to the GPS constellation being smaller then necessary to support all applications. The Air Force and Lockheed were working mitigation plans.

As the program has progressed the Air Force awarded Lockheed the contract to build the third and fourth satellites in this configuration. The initial value for the contract is almost $240 million. The initial contract awarded in 2008 covered the first two satellites in the program.

Ultimately up to 32 GPS III satellites will be manufactured and deployed over the enxt several years. The first is expected to be launched in 2014.

GPS is critical to support U.S. combat operations and new satellites need to be launched to replace the older, less capable systems from earlier constellations. Lockheed as long as it continues to meet the Air Force’s schedule and requirements should have the bulk of this work which should be due to its importance fairly well funded until its completion.

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