GPS technology is found in everything from cell phones and wristwatches to shipping containers, and ATM's. The system boosts productivity in almost every aspect of society and across a wide swath of the economy, to include farming, construction mining, surveying, supply chain management and more. Major communications networks, banking systems, financial markets, and power grids depend on GPS and the technology is embedded in virtually every component of U.S. military operations.
GPS satellites now on orbit are aging quickly and users are demanding more capability. To sustain and modernize the constellation, the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin are building the next generation satellite system, known as GPS III.
GPS III will improve position, navigation and timing services and provide advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability. The first GPS III satellites will deliver signals three times more accurate than current GPS spacecraft and provide three times more power for military users, while also enhancing the spacecraft’s design life and adding a civil L1C signal designed to be carried on other international Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).
In 2008, Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract for the design, development and production of the GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST) and the first two GPS III satellites, with priced options for up to 10 additional satellites. In late 2013, the U.S. Air Force exercised a $200 million option for the production of its fifth and sixth GPS III satellites. The Air Force plans to purchase up to 32 GPS III satellites.
The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the GPS III prime contractor with teammates Exelis, General Dynamics, Infinity Systems Engineering, Honeywell, ATK and other subcontractors. Air Force Space Command's 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.
Lockheed Martin’s GPS Heritage
For GPS III, Lockheed Martin will build on its proven record of providing progressively advanced spacecraft for the current GPS constellation.
Lockheed Martin designed and built 21 GPS IIR satellites for the Air Force and subsequently modernized eight of those spacecraft, designated GPS IIR-M, to enhance operations and navigation signal performance. The fleet of Lockheed Martin-built GPS IIR and IIR-M satellites makes up the majority of the operational GPS constellation today. The satellites have exceeded 150 cumulative operational years on-orbit with a reliability record of better than 99.9 percent, an unmatched record of exceptional performance and reliability for GPS users around the globe.
Lockheed Martin heritage also dates back to the production of the Oscar and Nova satellites, the original navigation programs that paved the way to the current GPS system. Learn more about the history of navigation here.