The Air Force on Thursday awarded Lockheed Martin [LMT] a $96 million contract for Global Positioning System III (GPS III) contingency operations services and supplies, according to a Defense Department statement.

The contract’s services and supplies will modify the current GPS control segment to operate all GPS III satellites launched before the transition to the Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) that developer Raytheon [RTN] has struggled to get on course. The contract will also buy GPS III satellite vehicle situation modules, GPS simulators and updates to the GPS positional training emulator.

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

The contract is formally an undefinitized contract action modification to a previously awarded contract. The Air Force in February 2015 announced it intended to purchase a temporary, contingency operation capability for GPS III positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) as a risk mitigation in the event OCX is delayed beyond the date needed for the first GPS III satellite to be integrated into the operational GPS constellation, according to a notice posted on Federal Business Opportunities (FBO).

The Air Force said in its February 2015 notice of contract action (NOCA) that it believed only Lockheed Martin was capable of performing this work. Lockheed Martin’s contract has a period of performance that runs through 2019.

The GPS III contingency flight operations capability will provide the temporary capability to perform the PNT mission for GPS III satellites integrated into the constellation of GPS II vehicles operated with the existing control segment, the Architecture Evolution Program (AEP). In this context, performance of the PNT mission refers to the ability to compile, format, generate, encrypt, upload data to GPS III satellites and monitor navigation message in all GPS III signals.

Raytheon declined to comment for this story. The Air Force did not return a request for comment by press time Friday.

OCX has struggled to gain momentum since the contract was awarded in 2010. Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) chief Gen. John Hyten told reporters in December that the Air Force “clearly” underestimated the difficulty of how to best write the information assurance requirement into the contract when it was awarded. Hyten, on the other hand, said Raytheon did a “really bad job” at system engineering the problem before it started coding (Defense Daily, December 8).