Technology company Harris will supply an all-digital navigation payload for GPS III Space Vehicles (SV) 11 and beyond, for enhanced performance and on-orbit reprogramming.
Harris has been providing 70% digital payload for GPS III 1-8 satellites, and the latest contract from Lockheed Martin will see the company supplying a system that is more flexible and accurate than the existing ones.
Developed with the joint capabilities of Harris and Exelis (acquired by Harris), the all-digital navigation payload will include an advanced modular design, atomic clock timing systems, radiation-hardened computers and powerful transmitters.
Harris Space & Intelligence Systems president Bill Gattle said: "We are dedicated to the US Air Force's GPS mission and continue to invest our research and development funds to ensure performance that exceeds expectations and that is low risk to implement on future platforms."
Operated by the US Air Force (USAF), the GPS satellites provide navigational assistance to the warfighters for military operations on land, at sea, and in the air. They are also used for civilian purposes.
GPS III space vehicles introduce full capability to use M-Code in support of warfighter operations. M-Code exceeds maximum GPS IIF and IIR M-Code capability.
According to the USAF, GPS III is needed to complete the deployment of L2C and L5 signal capabilities that began with the modernised GPS IIR-M and GPS IIF satellites.
United Launch Alliance is schedule to launch the GPS IIF-12 satellite on 5 February onboard the launch vehicle Atlas V 401.
Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to build the first eight GPS III next-generation communication satellites, which are designed to replace the existing GPS constellation.
Image: An artist's concept of the next-generation GPS III satellite. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force.