artistic impression of the US Air Force's Block IIF GPS satellite

Boeing has completed production of the US Air Force’s (USAF) fifth global positioning system (GPS) block IIF satellite at the Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, US.

Boeing vice president, Craig Cooning, said the satellite features an additional capability and improved mission performance for the armed forces and civilians, who are dependent on the system.

Cooning said: "Boeing, in close partnership with the US Air Force, is focused on execution and mission assurance – we are committed to sustaining the GPS constellation with GPS IIF."

Boeing is under contract with the US Department of Defense (DoD) to manufacture a total of 12 satellites to help enhance the military’s defensive capabilities.

Out of the five completed satellites, two are in space while three are awaiting launch. Seven satellites are currently in various stages of production.

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The GPS IIFs are a class of next-generation satellites designed to provide new and enhanced capabilities, including a jam-resistant military signal in hostile environments, and greater navigational accuracy through improved atomic clock technology.

The satellites are also expected to deliver a protected civilian L5 signal, in an effort to support commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications.

The first GPS IIF satellite (GPS IIF-1) was launched into orbit in May 2010, followed by GPS IIF-2 in July 2011, while the third is scheduled to be launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Boeing also serves as prime contractor for the USAF’s GPS Operational Control Segment programme, which has supported an expanding set of GPS services and capabilities since 2007.

Image: An artists impression of the US Air Force’s Block IIF GPS satellite in the orbit. Photo: courtesy of the USAF.