The Air Force on Wednesday awarded Lockheed Martin [LMT] a $1.3 billion contract to build the first two GPS III Follow-on (GPS IIIF) systems.

The contract award follows a Sept. 14 announcement that the Air Force had picked Lockheed Martin to build the next generation of GPS III satellites. The company is currently building 10 systems under the GPS III contract, initially awarded in 2012. The first two GPS IIIF systems are named “Space Vehicles 11 and 12” in the announcement.

Artistic rendering of a GPS III satellite (Image: Lockheed Martin)
Artist rendering of a GPS III satellite (Image: Lockheed Martin)

The award includes the option to produce up to 22 GPS III satellites, space vehicle storage and launch and on-orbit support. Work will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s facilities in Littleton, Colorado, and is expected to be completed in 2027. The first GPS IIIF satellite is slated to be available for launch in 2026, the Air Force has previously said. In total, the fixed-price-type production contract could be worth up to $7.2 billion, the service has said. (Defense Daily, Sept.19)

About $10 million in fiscal year 2018 (FY ‘18) research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds are being obligated at the time of award, according to the contract notice. The Space and Missile System Center (SMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California is the contracting activity.

Boeing [BA], Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Lockheed Martin were all awarded small contracts and performed demonstrations for phase 1 of the GPS IIIF program in 2016, but only Lockheed Martin ended up sending in a bid for the second phase in April 2018. Boeing built earlier GPS satellites.

The GPS III satellite contract has been exercised in options, with the last being awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2016 when the Air Force exercised the option for GPS III Space Vehicles 09 and 10 for $395 million. The first GPS III satellite is scheduled to launch in December, and arrived at Cape Canaveral in August. The second GPS III system was declared “launch-ready” by the Air Force that same month. Lockheed Martin has been the sole contractor for GPS III systems. (Defense Daily, Aug. 27)