Lockheed Martin has secured a contract to upgrade GPS ground systems for the US Air Force (USAF).

Under the $45.5m contract, the company will provide military code (M-Code) early use (MCEU) capability to the USAF's GPS.

Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems vice-president Mark Stewart said: "When people think of GPS, they often think of the satellites that provide the signals, but do not remember the important ground system behind it.

“We recognise the 'ground' is critical for any major space mission constellation.”

According to the company, M-Code is an advanced, new signal that is capable of improving anti-jamming and protection from spoofing.

It can also increase secure access to military GPS signals for US and allied armed forces, Lockheed stated.

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"M-Code is an advanced, new signal that is capable of improving anti-jamming and protection from spoofing."

The MCEU has the ability to provide command and control of M-Code capability to eight GPS IIR-M and 12 GPS IIF satellites currently in orbit. It will also be provided to future GPS III satellites, which the USAF expects to begin launching next year.

It is capable of accelerating M-Code's deployment in order to support testing and fielding of modernised user equipment.

The contract requires the company to upgrade the existing architecture evolution plan (AEP) operational control system (OCS), allowing it to task, upload and monitor M-Code within the GPS constellation.

It also covers new software and hardware development, which will be deployed in 2019 to worldwide ground facilities that support the airforce's GPS.

The AEP OCS is responsible for controlling the 12 GPS IIR, 8 IIR-M, and 12 IIF satellites.