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December 4, 2015

US to review Raytheon’s $1.6bn GPS ground system contract

The US is considering a review of the GPS satellites ground control system contract awarded to Raytheon, due to cost overruns and technical challenges.

By Prasanth Katam

The US is considering a review of the GPS satellites ground control system contract awarded to Raytheon, due to cost overruns and technical challenges.

Department of Defense undersecretary Frank Kendall said that the country is looking at various options, including the launch of a new competition for the programme.

Raytheon was awarded an $886m contract in 2010 to design the ground system Operational Control Segment (OCX) for the GPS III satellites being developed by Lockheed Martin. The contract was revalued to $1.6bn in 2014.

"Raytheon firmly believes that GPS OCX is the best path forward to meet the country’s needs for a completely capable and cyber hardened ground control system."

The satellites will begin launching in 2017, but it is now doubted if Raytheon will supply the ground systems in time for the first launch.

Kendall will meet the executives of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services tomorrow to review the system.

This is the second time the contract is being reviewed this year.

The US Air Force-led GPS Modernisation Program will provide new positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities for both the US military and civilian users across the globe.

The OCX will protect the satellites from cyber threats, in addition to providing ground-based command and control system.

In September, the Government Accountability Office observed that the air force has experienced ‘significant difficulties’ developing the GPS OCX.

The programme needs $1.1bn and four years more than planned to deliver OCX due to poor acquisition decisions and a slow recognition of development problems, it said.

"Five years into what was originally estimated to be a five-year effort, OCX is still roughly five years away from completion," it added.

However, Raytheon vice-president for navigation and environmental solutions Matt Gilligan said the programme was now on a strong foundation.

"As a result, this vitally important program is now well positioned for predictable performance and strong execution going forward.

"Raytheon firmly believes that GPS OCX is the best path forward to meet the country’s needs for a completely capable and cyber hardened ground control system." Gilligan added.

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