U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) estimates that the Global Positioning System Next-Generation Operational Control System (GPS OCX) by RTX [RTX] will meet the system’s Ready to Transition to Operations (RTO) milestone more than a year later than SSC projected last year, according to a DoD Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) released on Sept. 22.

The SAR noted that the RTO, which SSC had expected in April, had moved to December and now May next year.

“The Block 1 and 2 RTO current estimate changed from December 2023 to May 2024,” the report said.

GPS OCX Blocks 1 and 2 are to control older GPS II and newer GPS III satellites, launched starting in 2018, and both older and modernized signals. The concurrent delivery of Block 2 is to add the international L1C and Military Code signals.

The SAR said that the estimated RTO delay “accounts for technical issues, contractor staffing challenges that might emerge in early FY 2024, and the risk that operational assets (crews and satellites) might not be available to fully support government-led developmental testing. Therefore, the government estimates DD250 submission to occur in the October, 2023 timeframe.”

“The government estimates seven months of transition/activities are required between the Raytheon contract delivery submission date and the APB [acquisition program baseline] RTO milestone, putting RTO estimate at mid-2024,” per the SAR.

The DD250 form submission marks the handover of contract “deliverables” to DoD.

RTX had no comment on the SAR on Oct. 4.

On March 26, 2020, Space Force said that it told RTX, then Raytheon, to replace GPS OCX’s IBM [IBM] computer hardware before the delivery of GPS OCX due to the sale of IBM’s computer product line to Lenovo, owned by China (Defense Daily, June 17, 2021). Space Force said that it had successfully tested alternative computer hardware made by Hewlett Packard Enterprise [HPE], a U.S. company, in a pilot project after HPE’s selection in 2017.

That pilot project replaced IBM hardware with HPE’s in the 17 monitoring stations for GPS and four GPS ground antenna sites, Space Force said.

The House Appropriations Committee’s fiscal 2024 bill report said that, in addition to the Space Force needing to fund “core programs” fully in the fiscal 2025 budget request, “the committee remains very concerned about programs the Space Force has reported as its poorest performing acquisition programs, including the GPS Next Generation Operational Control Segment (OCX)” (Defense Daily, June 27).

“Further, OCX is nearly seven years late and not yet delivered,” per the House Appropriations Committee’s report. “This is unacceptable and demands senior leader attention to ensure the program has the appropriate resources to complete OCX development and deliver the capability as soon as possible.

Cost estimates for GPS OCX increased from $3.9 billion in November 2012 to more than $6.9 billion last year and are now about $7.5 billion in 2017 dollars. DoD approved the GPS OCX Capability Development Document in June 2017.

RTX has said that GPS OCX “will provide improved accuracy of the current system and will be able to fly more than twice as many satellites”–an increase that the company said “will increase coverage in hard-to-reach areas such as urban canyons and mountainous terrain.”