Air Force Approves Lockheed Martin’s GPS Ground System Upgrade Design

The Air Force approved Lockheed Martin’s [LMT] design to upgrade the GPS ground control system with new capabilities for the newest GPS III satellites, the company said Monday.

The Critical Design Review (CDR) for the Contingency Operations (COps) contract was completed on Nov. 17 and gives the company the approval to proceed with software development and systems engineering to modify the existing GPS ground control system.

Artist's illustration of a GPS III satellite. Image: Lockheed Martin.

Artist's illustration of a GPS III satellite. Image: Lockheed Martin.

The system is called the Architecture Evolution Plan (AEP) Operational Control Segment and is currently maintained by Lockheed Martin. The AEP controls the 31 GPS IIR, IIR-M, and IIF satellites.

The COps modifications are set to allow the AEP to support the next generation GPS Block III satellites. This enables them to perform their positioning, navigation, and timing mission. COps was envisioned as a temporary gap filler before the entire GPS constellation’s transition to operation onto the next generation Operational Control System (OCX) Blcok 1, which is currently in development.

“This risk-reduction effort ensures the Air Force has the ability to maintain the constellation at full strength. We are here to support the Air Force and the GPS III program any way we can,” Mark Stewart, vice president of Lockheed Martin's navigation systems mission area, said in a statement.

The Air Force originally awarded the $96 million COps services and supplies contract on Feb. 3 and the government approved Lockheed Martin’s proposed ground system modification at a May 11 Preliminary Design Review.

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