Raytheon, U.S. Air Force Successfully Complete GPS OCX First Qualification Test

Image Credit: Raytheon

Image Credit: Raytheon

April 13, 2016 – On March 4, Raytheon successfully passed the first formal qualification test milestone for the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System Next Generation Operational Control System. Known simply as GPS OCX, this new system offers significant improvements to the GPS on which the U.S. military and millions of civilians rely, including enhanced availability, accuracy, and security.

The event was the Configuration Item Qualification Test, or CIQT, milestone for the Launch and Checkout System, or LCS. The system provides launch and early orbit checkout capabilities for the modernized GPS III satellites and implements 77 percent of the cybersecurity capabilities for the overall OCX program. The testing was successfully conducted in a representative operational environment with a government-provided GPS III satellite simulator.

“The completion of this test milestone validates the maturity of the OCX launch and checkout system,” said Bill Sullivan, GPS OCX program director for Raytheon. “As a result of strong collaboration with the Air Force, we were able to demonstrate the system’s performance and increase confidence in the program’s path ahead.”

The LCS CIQT Run-for-Record was completed more than one month ahead of the plan established in mid-2015, clearing the way for LCS to proceed toward the Factory Qualification Test, the next major qualification event. The FQT test will be at the integrated system level and will take place this summer.

When completed, the U.S. Air Force-led GPS Modernization Program will yield new positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities for both the U.S. military and civilian users across the globe. And with its groundbreaking technology, GPS OCX will help ensure the system can meet evolving cyber threats.

GPS OCX is being developed by Raytheon under contract to the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, which is replacing the current GPS operational control system. The OCX Launch and Checkout System provides an early delivery of a large subset of the overall OCX capability, and will support the GPS III satellite launches.

The first four GPS III satellites are in various stages of assembly and testing at Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility outside of Denver. Components for the next four GPS III satellites are already being assembled, tested and delivered by more than 250 aerospace industry companies from 29 states. The satellites are being built in a steady production line fashion that is reducing cost and development time.

The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.

The U.S. GPS system is the largest and most capable in the world. In addition to supporting defense and civil missions in air, land, sea and space, GPS is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world to enhance daily life activities such as personal navigation tools. It’s also required for industry and businesses and is essential to support safety-of-life applications such as air traffic control and emergency response. The modernized ground station will bring new capability and precision to the GPS enterprise.