September 16, 2018 – The U.S. Air Force announced selection of Lockheed Martin for a fixed-price-type production contract for 22 GPS III Follow-On satellites with a total estimated contract value up to $7.2 billion.
“The world is dependent on GPS, from getting directions to getting cash from an ATM or trading on the stock exchange,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “These satellites will provide greater accuracy, and improved anti-jamming capabilities, making them more resilient.”
Today, the Air Force operates a total of 77 satellites vital to national security that provide communications, command and control, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, weather and GPS for the world.
“Since Desert Storm, our joint and allied war fighting team have relied on uninterrupted position, navigation and timing signals to employ precision on and over the battlefield,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein. “This investment in GPS III continues to advance our capabilities into the future.”
The U.S. Air Force’s current GPS III satellites are assembled at Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility in Littleton, Colorado. The $128-million cleanroom factory was designed in a virtual reality environment to drive efficiency and reduce costs in satellite production. The satellites are built using a streamlined assembly and test production line.
Lockheed Martin’s unique GPS III satellite design includes a flexible, modular architecture that allows for the insertion of new technology as it becomes available in the future or if the Air Force’s mission needs change.
“Through this acquisition, we are demonstrating many of the principles of our SMC transformation,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force program executive officer for space. “Getting to a manufacturing steady state in a fixed-price environment will allow us the opportunity to realize substantial cost savings, deliver on a planned schedule, and provide avenues for needed warfighter capability upgrades in the future.”
The first GPS IIIF satellite is expected to be available for launch in 2026. The Air Force is the lead agency for procuring these satellites.
The Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the U.S. Air Force’s center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. 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.