Lockheed Martin has submitted a competitive and fully compliant proposal for the US Air Force’s (USAF) GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) programme.
With an aim to generate up to 22 next-generation satellites, the USAF programme will help provide improved capabilities to the most advanced global positioning system (GPS) satellites ever designed.
Offering three times better accuracy, GPS IIIs provide up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities and help extend the life of the spacecraft to 15 years, which is 25% longer than the newest GPS satellites on orbit today.
The satellites feature new L1C civil signal, which makes them the first ever GPS satellites to be interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems such as Galileo.
The GPS IIIF programme will support a Regional Military Protection capability that will increase anti-jam support in theatre in order to ensure the US and allied forces are not denied to GPS access in hostile environments.
Each GPS IIIF satellite will also feature a fully digital navigation payload and include a laser retro-reflector array, which enables the positioning of on-orbit satellites to be refined with ground-based, laser precision.
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The US Government will also equip each Lockheed Martin satellite with a new search-and-rescue payload, which will help first responders detect and respond to emergency signals.
Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems Mission Area programme manager Johnathon Caldwell said: “When we developed our design for the first ten GPS III, we used a flexible, modular architecture that would allow for the insertion of modern technologies and new airforce requirements in a low-risk manner.
“In addition, our GPS IIIF solution is based off a design already proven compatible with both the airforce’s next-generation operational control system (OCX) and the existing GPS constellation.”
The first ten GPS III satellites of the airforce are currently in full production at Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility, which is a $128m cleanroom factory designed in a virtual reality environment to enhance efficiency while reducing costs in satellite manufacturing.
In September, the USAF declared Lockheed Martin’s first GPS III satellite ‘Available for Launch’ (AFL).