recommended reading

Air Force Looks to Ditch Lockheed After GPS Satellite Delays

An artist drawing provided by Lockheed Martin shows a Block III GPS satellite orbiting the Earth.

An artist drawing provided by Lockheed Martin shows a Block III GPS satellite orbiting the Earth. // Lockheed Martin/AP File Photo

Faced with delays in delivery of next-generation GPS III satellites by Lockheed Martin, the Air Force has asked other vendors for proposals – due Friday – to develop and build up to 22 satellites.

The GPS III satellites will provide new and more secure signals for military users and new signals for civil use, which promise enhanced accuracy for the location-based applications on smartphones and tablets.

Lockheed currently has a contract for eight GPS III satellites. Company spokesman Chip Eschenfelder said the delays were caused by problems with the navigation payload. The Government Accountability Office estimated in March that delays had pushed launch of the first GPS III satellite back by 21 months and increased costs by $300 million from $4.1 billion to $4.4 billion for the eight Lockheed satellites.

The Air Force buys GPS satellites in generational blocks, each block representing an improvement over the previous, with the first generation providing only one military and civil signal.

Lt. Col. Brian Bailey, deputy chief engineer of the Air Force GPS directorate, told a GPS meeting June 3 the service now has 30 satellites on orbit, including five Boeing-built GPS IIF satellites that offer three signals to civil users. He said the GPS III satellites will offer four civil signals when on orbit and will have a design life of 15 years, compared to 12 years for the IIF birds.

GPS chipsets have become near ubiquitous in mobile phone and computers. Bailey estimated there are now 2 billion civil users.

The Air Force said it plans to let two contracts next year for development of new GPS III satellites, potentially leading to an award of production contracts for 22 satellites in the 2017-2018 period, with the first satellite ready for launch in the first quarter of 2023.

Paula Shawa, a Boeing spokeswoman, said the company is interested in the new GPS III contract. “Boeing continues to believe there are affordable low-risk alternate GPS solutions and looks forward to supporting the Air Force in the sources-sought process to best meet the future warfighter needs,” Shawa said in an email statement.

This story has been updated with Boeing comment.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.