GPS III / GPS Block III
The most powerful Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites ever designed and built for the U.S. Air Force are expected to begin launching in 2018. Lockheed Martinís GPS III satellites will have three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities. Spacecraft life will extend to 15 years, 25 percent longer than the newest GPS satellites on-orbit today. GPS IIIís new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite broadcasting a compatible signal with other international global navigation satellite systems, like Galileo, improving connectivity for civilian users.
Lockheed Martin is contracted for and is assembling 10 GPS III satellites at the companyís nearly 40,000 sq. ft. GPS III Processing Facility near Denver, Colorado. The $128 million, state-of-the-art, manufacturing factory was designed in a virtual reality environment to maximize production effectiveness and efficiency. Opened in 2011, the GPF includes a specialized cleanroom and test chambers designed to streamline satellite production. Lockheed Martin is focused on providing the Air Force an affordable, resilient, low-risk GPS III solution.
Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based radio positioning, navigation, and time (PNT) distribution system. The GPS Block III Space and Control Segments include, but are not limited to, advanced concept development, systems engineering and analysis, satellite systems development, the study of augmentation systems, control segment development, user equipment interfaces, training simulators, Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) products, and developmental test resources.
GPS III, will give new navigation warfare (NAVWAR) capabilities to shut off GPS service to a limited geographical location while providing GPS to US and allied forces. GPS III will offer significant improvements in navigation capabilities by improving interoperability and jam resistance. The procurement of the GPS III system is planned for multiple blocks, with the GPS IIIA portion currently underway. GPS IIIA includes all of the GPS IIF capability plus up to a ten-fold increase in signal power, a new civil signal compatible with the European Union's Galileo system, and a new spacecraft bus that will allow a growth path to future blocks.
The global, around-the-clock availability of navigation and precise time transfer provided by GPS of course rests largely on the mission capability of the NAVSTAR satellites. As the legacy of GPS ages, so do many of these satellites. As of 2002 the constellation of 27 operational GPS satellites consisted of three different generations, or block types. Specifically, the constellation included 3 Block II, 18 Block IIA, and 6 Block IIR vehicles. Of the 21 older II/IIA satellites, 20 were past their contracted mean mission duration of 6 years, and 17 are past their design life of 7.5 years. Moreover, of all the satellites, 13 were one component away from mission failure, and nine are one component away from bus failure.
As the community charts the future of the satellite constellation, in terms of modernization and GPS III, the overall age of the constellation unavoidably forces program managers into tough decisions related to balancing the longterm goals of system enhancement with the short-term needs of mission sustenance.
Current plans call for modifying the last 12 of the third-generation GPS satellites, Block IIR, by adding more power, a second civil signal and a new, more robust military signal. The fourth-generation satellite, Block IIF, was under development. This spacecraft will have many improvements over its predecessors to include longer life, improved reliability, more power, and a third civil signal capable of satisfying safety-of-life requirements for civil aviation. The first GPS IIF launch was scheduled for 2008. These new satellites will broadcast two new civil signals: one of which was introduced in 2003, the other in 2007. The added signals will increase the robustness of the civil service and improve accuracy to 3-5 meters.
The generation after next will be composed of GPS III satellites, which will include all of the legacy capabilities, plus the addition of high-powered, anti-jam military-code, along with other accuracy, reliability, and data integrity improvements. Plans are being formulated to conduct an architecture study for the next-generation satellite navigation system, GPS III, capable of meeting military and civil needs through 2030. This jam resistant, modernized version of the world's greatest free utility will be developed and delivered to ensure the US has the most precise and secure positioning, navigation and timing capability.
The GPS III program objective is to develop and deploy an improved systems architecture for the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) to assure reliable and secure delivery of enhanced position, velocity, and timing (PVT) signals for the evolving needs of GPS civil and military users. GPS III eliminates numerous existing shortcomings and vulnerabilities inherent in the current GPS architecture that threaten to severely impact vital civil commerce, transportation, public safety, as well as military operations in the future.
GPS III enhances U.S. leadership in space-based navigation by meeting the stated Presidential goal of establishing GPS as a world standard. GPS III supports the Federal Radionavigation Plan and will be fully interoperable with all current global radionavigation systems. The GPS III system also incorporates the Nuclear Detonation Detection System (NDS) and provides a potential platform for supporting additional synergistic payloads and services. The Government intends to use an evolutionary development approach. This approach includes using a modular open systems architecture, standard interfaces and protocols, and continuous technology refresh, to incrementally improve system capabilities with a low risk of GPS service interruption.
The next-generation GPS III system is expected to have about 500 times the transmitter power of the current system, multiplying its resistance to jamming. With a constellation of 30-32 satellites, GPS III will have Second and Third Frequencies to contain civilian signal, (L2 = 1227.60 MHz) & (L5 = 1176.45 MHz), more robust signal transmissions, and provide real-time unaugmented 1 meter accuracy.
The GPS III program includes an integrated space segment (SS) and control segment (CS) system that incorporates the Nuclear Detonation Detection System (NUDET) and defines the Signal-in-Space (SIS) to User Equipment (UE) interface. The system should provide a best value solution with the flexibility to anticipate and respond to future military and civilian needs. The GPS III security infrastructure should provide user access to and protection of the entire system. The GPS III system should facilitate the incorporation of additional mission capabilities (i.e. Blue Force Tracking (BFT), Search and Rescue (SAR) missions, etc.).
By 2001 it was envisioned that initial launches would take place around 2005 with complete replacement by 2011. By 2002 the first launch had slipped to the year 2009.
Program funds support engineering studies and analyses, architectural engineering studies, trade studies, systems engineering, system development, test and evaluation efforts, and mission operations in support of upgrades and product improvements for military and civil applications necessary to support efforts to protect U.S. military and allies' use of GPS.
The GPS III System Architecture and Requirements Definition (SARD) Phase was a 12-month study between government and industry. Two contractors (Lockheed Martin, Boeing) were awarded Firm Fixed Price contracts worth $16M per contractor. These were awarded 8 November 2000. Spectrum Astro also participated on company funds.
GPS III SARD Phase products included Technical Requirements for Development Milestones; Architectures that support Technical Requirements; Life Cycle Cost estimates for each Architecture; Risk Analysis; Draft System Effectiveness and Performance Metrics; Initial Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP); Acquisition Strategy; Entry/Exit criteria for Development Milestones; and a Technology Roadmap.
The contract effort of the GPS III program was initially structured to focus on the selection of a single prime contractor to complete the systems engineering, deliver a control segment, and develop, launch and test on-orbit four (4) development satellite vehicles. During this stage, the Government anticipated requesting space vehicle production proposals and seek formal program approval to field the GPS III system.
In 2001 a new space systems acquisition process was established, by the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Space) (who is also Director, NRO) by a 20 October 2001 memo. A "Pathfinder" for this process was established, with GPS-III the designated pathfinder. At that time GPS III was in "Concept Exploration phase", and required DAE review prior to System Definition and Risk Reduction. The new process was using the draft SecAF Space Acquisition Policy as the process guide for the review. It was derived from NRO acquisition oversight process document, adapted and modified to meet DoD statutory requirements. The A-B-C designators refer to different Key Decision Points and phases than DoDI 5000.2.
In 2003 the Air Force decided to postpone the launch of the GPS III program. An Independent Program Assessment [IPA] team studying GPS III found the program was too optimistic in estimating resources that would be needed. For example, the study noted that the program budget was not sufficient to support the program plan by several hundred million dollars. The team also pointed out that the system's architecture and acquisition strategy were not sufficiently defined.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) was released on 17 September 03 with a thirty day response time. HQ Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) intended to competitively award up to two Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) contracts, approximately $25M each. The purpose of these contracts was to mature the definition of the GPS III program to the System Requirements Review (SRR) level in support of the final selection of a single prime contractor to complete the development of the GPS III system. In addition to completing the SRR, the selected contractor(s) will be required to provide expert engineering analysis of GPS requirements in support of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) Capabilities Definition Document (CDD) (similar to what was formerly known as the Operational Requirements Document (ORD)) update.
On 15 September 2003, the USecAF signed an Acquisition Decision Memorandum directing the GPS JPO to re-initiate Phase A activities (concept exploration/risk reduction) for GPS III. Two Phase A contracts were awarded January 5, 2004 to Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, with direction to mature the GPS III program through Systems Requirements Review (SRR), culminating in a Key Decision Point-B (KDP-B) by 3QFY05. The Boeing Co., Seal Beach, Calif., was awarded a $20,800,000 cost-plus fixed-fee contract, and Lockheed Martin, King of Prussia, Pa., was awarded a $20,785,675 cost-plus fixed-fee contract. The GPS III Phase A acquisition was to select up to two contractors to competitively mature GPS III requirements for a successful system requirements review in support of key decision Point B acquisition milestone. This work was to be complete by December 2005. Solicitation began September 2003 and negotiations were completed December 2003. The Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8807-04-C-0002, 0001).
In December 2004, the National Security Space Acquisition Policy was updated, which required the completion of a System Design Review (SDR) prior to KDP-B. The National Security Space Acquisition Policy specifies that key decision point B (also referred to as Milestone B by the DOD 5000 series or Product Development Start by GAO best practice work) is the official program initiation point when programs develop a formal Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) and submit Special Acquisition Reports (SAR) to the Congress. The policies codify best practices such as Independent Technology Readiness Assessments and Independent Cost Assessments. DOD said that it was committed to fully funding programs as they enter their preliminary design phase (Key Decision Point B), and to demonstrate technology maturity in a relevant environment before settling on a complete design (Key Decision Point C).
To comply with this policy, the GPS III program would conduct RFP release, source selection and contract award prior to KDP-B in order to minimize budget and schedule impacts. The winning contractor was to conduct SDR in 2QFY07, and KDP-B in 3QFY07. Concept exploration/risk reduction activities will evaluate the potential for incremental delivery of GPS III capabilities, which could potentially be fielded sooner than FY13.
As of early 2005 the GPS III program was restructured from an FY12 first launch (launch for capability profile), to no later than an FY13 first launch (launch for schedule profile), and provide the opportunity to evaluate incremental satisfaction of GPS III requirements. This approach could deliver a subset of mission-critical improvements before FY13 to incrementally satisfy near-term warfighter requirements. This approach is intended to be compliant with FY05 authorization language that directs the evaluation of various architectures that take advantage of smaller, lighter weight, and potentially less expensive GPS satellites. Plan to award contract(s) for Phase A System Design Review (SDR) in FY07.As of March 2006 the Air Force expected to release the Request for Proposals (RFP) to industry for GPS III in April 2006. The release of the satellite RFP was to initiate a seven month period during which industry teams will submit their bids and the Air Force will evaluate them, leading to the choice of the winning design before the end of 2006. Boeing and Lockheed Martin led teams that have been performing GPS III satellite risk-reduction activities. At that time, the Air Force planned to build up to 24 GPS III satellites in four incremental blocks of increasing capability, with each block consisting of six spacecraft.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corp. and Boeing Co. each received a $49,999,000 cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification to accomplish a GPS III system design review (SDR) in March, 2007, towards a Key Decision Point B in June, 2007: the award of a multi-billion dollar development contract for building GPS III.
In the FY07 PB, a restructure of the GPS III program provided funds for the GPS III SV and OCX. The FY08 PB completes the GPS III restructure. Funding for OCX supports an additional Prime Contractor to support OCX concept development, which includes, in addition to GPS III capabilities, the ability to control modernized signals.
The Air Force is pursuing a "Block" approach to GPS III space vehicle (SV) development and the next generation control segment (OCX) to rapidly respond to warfighter capability requirements. The Block acquisition approach follows the "Back to Basics" space program acquisition philosophy which focuses on mitigating cost and schedule risk through a lower risk incremental delivery of mature technologies. This approach, consistent with the National Security Space (NSS) 03-01 Acquisition Policy, focuses on mission success and on time delivery. In parallel with these activities, the GPS III SV program and OCX continued their Phase A and Program R&D Announcement (PRDA) risk reduction activities until contracts are awarded.
The Air Force will acquire eight GPS IIIA satellites in this competition and plans to begin launches in 2013. Eight GPS IIIB, and 16 GPS IIIC satellites are planned for later increments, with each increment including more capabilities based on technical maturity. When fully deployed, the GPS III constellation will enable a cross-link command and control architecture, allowing the entire GPS constellation to be updated from a single ground station instead of waiting for each satellite to orbit in view of a ground antenna as well as a new spot beam capability for enhanced M-Code coverage and increased resistance to hostile jamming. All of these enhancements contribute to improved accuracy and assured availability for military and civilian users worldwide.
For Lockheed Martin-built Block IIR and IIR-M and Boeing's Block IIF satellites, signals shall be contained within two 20.46-MHz bands centered about the L1 and L2 nominal frequencies. For Block III and subsequent satellites, the requirements specified in this IS shall pertain to the signal contained within a 30.69MHz band centered about the L1 and L2 nominal frequencies.
GPS IIIA will maintain constellation sustainment, provide existing capabilities, plus introduction of a new L1C civil signal, increased earth coverage M-code power for authorized military users, a graceful growth path to achieve full CDD threshold requirements, and continuing support for the NDS mission, to serve the evolving needs of GPS military and civil users. GPS IIIA is an Acquisition Category 1D program. The GPS must comply with 10 United States Code (USC) 2281 that requires that the Secretary of Defense ensure the continued sustainment and operation of GPS for military and civilian purposes and 42 USC 14712 and comply with certain standards and facilitates international cooperation.
On 12 July 2007, the Global Positioning Systems Wing announced the release of the Request for Proposal for the development and production of the GPS Block IIIA satellites. GPS IIIA is the first of three GPS III increments and is the foundation for enhancements in later blocks. New capabilities on GPS IIIA will provide improved Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services to the warfighter and civil users by improving accuracy, integrity, and resistance to hostile jamming. GPS IIIA will transmit a new civilian signal (L1C), which is designed to be highly interoperable with the European Galileo satellite navigation system signal and intended to be fully compatible and interoperable with those signals planned for broadcast on Japan's Quazi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS). For military users, GPS IIIA satellites will provide further increases in the anti-jam capability of the M-Code signals.
Lockheed Martin is currently on contract and completed a delta Systems Requirements Review (SRR) in November of 2006 and System Design Review (SDR) in March of 2007. GPS Constellation sustainment is driving the need for GPS IIIA Key Decision Point-B (KDP-B). The delay of KDP-B from August to December 2007 provided an opportunity for further system design risk reduction activities to be performed.
The Navstar GPS Block III Space Vehicle Program (GPS III) awarded a sole source Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) contract modification to Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems & Solutions contract FA8807-04-C-0001 for a period of 01 November 2007 to award of GPS III Satellite Production contract. Lockheed Martin can provide this without the Government incurring substantial duplication of costs that are not expected to be recovered through competition or unacceptable delays in fulfilling the agency's requirements (10 USC 2304(c)(1)). This action added approximately five months to the existing GPS III Phase A contract and built upon Lockheed Martin?s current GPS III Space Vehicle Risk Reduction and System Definition effort scheduled to conclude November 2007.
Under the contemplated contract action, Lockheed will provide demonstration of lower-level design maturity and analysis of critical technologies and engineering integration processes to ensure time-certain development. Lockheed Martin will also provide key updates to the SDR baseline to ensure functional and performance allocations are complete and traceable from space system level to sub-system level. This includes functional and performance requirements flowdown to incorporate evolving requirements as identified in the July 2007 Joint Requirements Oversight Council GPS III Capability Development Document. Other key products include a mature space system design and navigation payload sub-system design consistent with the contractor's prime item specification and SMC military specifications and standards.
Lockheed Martin will provide necessary Life Cycle Cost Estimates (LCCE) updates consistent with a high confidence, low risk capability insertion program plan for a FY2014 launch availability and additional LCCE for an accelerated launch availability before FY2014; and mature contractor GPS definition and design products to support on-going Independent Program Assessment and Independent Cost Assessment for the December 2007 KDP-B.
The long anticipated award of the GPS III space segment contract for space vehicles and GPS payloads was anticipated on 17-18 April 2008. The contract is potentially worth $1.8 billion for the first eight "Block A" GPS III satellites. The first of the new satellites is to be launched in 2014. The Air Force planned to use a single prime contractor for eight GPS IIIB spacecraft, and 16 GPS IIIC space vehicles. Loren Thompson, an analyst with Lexington Institute, said it was "highly likely" that Lockheed Martin rather than Boeing would win the GPS III contract. His reasoning was that Lockheed Martin had performed better on the GPS-IIR satellites it built than Boeing had on the GPS-IIF, which is over-budget, behind schedule and it seemed "to be facing technical hurdles," according to Thompson.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Littleton, Colorado was awarded on 21 September 2016 a $395 million modification of the contract for GPS III Space Vehicles 09 and 10. Work on the two satellites ó the ninth and tenth in the program ó will be performed at Littleton, and is expected to be complete by August 8, 2022. The contract was approved even though Lockheed Martin acknowledged days earlier that it would not deliver the first of the new generation GPS-3 satellites until December, making it likely that it will not be launched until 2017. The first GPS-3 satellite would be delivered 32 months behind schedule mainly because of problems with its advanced navigation payload developed by Exelis Geospatial Systems, now part of the Harris Corporation.
On 20 August 2018, Lockheed Martin shipped the U.S. Air Force's first GPS III space vehicle (GPS III SV01) to Cape Canaveral for its expected launch in December. Designed and built at Lockheed Martin's GPS III Processing Facility near Denver, the satellite was shipped from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, to the Cape on a massive Air Force C-17 aircraft.
GPS III will be the most powerful and resilient GPS satellite ever put on orbit. Developed with an entirely new design for U.S. and allied forces, it will have three times greater accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities over the previous GPS II satellite design block, which makes up today's GPS constellation. GPS III also will be the first GPS satellite to broadcast the new L1C civil signal. Shared by other international global navigation satellite systems, like Galileo, the L1C signal will improve future connectivity worldwide for commercial and civilian users.
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