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GPS III satellite

Lockheed Martin has received a contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to complete production of the seventh and eighth next-generation global positioning system III (GPS III) satellites.

The company secured initial funding for the GPS III space vehicles seven and eight (SV 07-08) under a February 2013 long lead material contract for the air force’s second set of four satellites, GPS III SV 05-08.

Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems mission area vice-president Mark Stewart said the GPS III programme is moving from development into recurring production with the contract award of eight GPS III satellites.

"We continue to build on the lessons learned from development and this contract demonstrates the Air Force’s confidence in and continued need for the GPS III satellite," Stewart said.

The air force had exercised an option, similar to the current award, to complete production of SV 05-06 in December 2013.

The GPS III is a next-generation communication satellite designed to replace the existing GPS constellation used by the military and civilian customers to offer navigational information worldwide.

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"The GPS III programme is moving from development into recurring production with the contract award of eight GPS III satellites."

Capable of delivering enhanced accuracy, navigation and timing services, and anti-jamming power, the satellites feature enhancements that extend its service life by 25% than the GPS block.

The satellitescarry a new L1C civil signal that ensures interoperability with other international global navigation satellite systems.

The first two GPS III satellites are currently making significant progress through sequential integration and test work stations specifically designed for efficient and affordable satellite production at Lockheed’s GPS III Processing Facility in Littleton, Colorado, US.

Lockheed had powered on the SV-02 satellite bus and network communications equipment payload in December 2013, while the SV-01, which was powered on in February last year, is currently in integration and test flow leading up to the delivery to the air force.

Image: A depiction of USAF’s GPS III satellite in orbit. Photo: © 2014 Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Defence Technology