U.S. Space Force contracts Lockheed Martin for 3 more GPS IIIF satellites

November 16, 2021  - By

The U.S. Space Force exercised its second contract option valued at approximately $737 million for the procurement of three additional GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) space vehicles (SVs) from Lockheed Martin on Oct. 22, 2021. This contract option is for GPS IIIF satellites 15, 16 and 17 (SV15-17).

GPS IIIF satellites build off the innovative design of Lockheed Martin’s next generation GPS III satellites (SV 01-10), which provide three times greater accuracy, up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability and increased resiliency, in addition to modernization, compared to legacy GPS satellites in today’s constellation. GPS III also adds a new L1C civil signal that is compatible with other global navigation satellite systems, such as Galileo.

“GPS IIIF satellites will add new capabilities and advanced technology to the GPS constellation, including Regional Military Protection (RMP); an upgraded Nuclear Detection Detonation System (NDS) payload; a safety-improving Search and Rescue payload; and an accuracy-enhancing Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA),” said Dave Hatch, Lockheed Martin’s GPS IIIF program management director. “The RMP capability further reinforces GPS III/IIIF as a warfighting system, providing up to 60x greater anti-jamming for our warfighters operating in contested environments.”

GPS III/IIIF support a Space Force effort to modernize the current GPS satellite constellation.

The GPS IIIF SV11-12 satellites were included in the original September 2018 GPS IIIF contract award to Lockheed Martin to build up to 22 GPS IIIF satellites. Under that contract, the government exercised the first GPS IIIF production option for SV13-14 in October 2020.

GPS IIIF SV13 and beyond will incorporate the company’s LM2100 Combat Bus, an enhanced space vehicle that provides even greater resiliency and cyber-hardening against growing threats, as well as improved spacecraft power, propulsion and electronics. This evolved bus incorporates many common components and procedures to streamline manufacturing. LM2100 Combat Bus vehicles are also capable of hosting Lockheed Martin’s Augmentation System Port Interface (ASPIN), which would allow for future on-orbit servicing and upgrade opportunities.

Today Lockheed Martin is close to finishing production on the original GPS III SV1-10 contract. GPS III SV01-05 have been launched and handed over to the Space Force for on-orbit operations. GPS III SV06-08 have been completed and placed in storage at the company’s facility waiting for the Space Force to call them up for launch. SV09 is a fully integrated space vehicle now going through final testing.

On October 26, 2021, the final GPS III satellite of the original GPS III contract – GPS III SV10 – completed an operation known as “core mate” to assemble it into a full space vehicle at Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility. It will proceed into the vehicle testing campaign before year-end.

About the Author: Matteo Luccio

Matteo Luccio, GPS World’s Editor-in-Chief, possesses more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for GNSS and geospatial technology magazines. He began his career in the industry in 2000, serving as managing editor of GPS World and Galileo’s World, then as editor of Earth Observation Magazine and GIS Monitor. His technical articles have been published in more than 20 professional magazines, including Professional Surveyor Magazine, Apogeo Spatial and xyHt. Luccio holds a master’s degree in political science from MIT. He can be reached at mluccio@northcoastmedia.net or 541-543-0525.