The US Air Force (USAF) has issued a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) to purchase Global Positioning System III (GPS III) Launch Services.

The services will include launch vehicle production, mission integration and launch operations.

This new release is part of efforts to reintroduce competition for the evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV), which is the USAF’s space lift modernisation programme.

The present launch service is the first of nine space launch missions that the USAF is planning to compete under its EELV Phase 1A strategy.

USAF Space programme executive office lieutenant general Sam Greaves said: "This is our first competition for EELV launch services in over a decade.

"Our intent is to reintroduce competition while maintaining our focus on mission success in support of National Security Space launches."

"The services will include launch vehicle production, mission integration and launch operations."

USAF Secretary Deborah James was cited by Spaceflight Now as saying that of the nine launch opportunities, two are scheduled for this year between SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA).

The remaining seven missions will be open procurements that will take place between 2016 and 2017.

Ms James also said: "Another 25 launches of military communications, navigation, early warning and spy satellites will be competed from 2018 through 2022."

The USAF’s EELV programme was initiated in the 1990s to assure access to space for the Department of Defense (DoD) and other US Government payloads.

The Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center manages the acquisition and development of USAF military space systems.

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 used by the military and civilian customers to offer navigational information worldwide.

Image: Global Positioning System III. Photo: courtesy of the US Air Force.