WASHINGTON — While work continues on a costly new ground control system for the GPS 3 constellation, the Air Force is investing in major upgrades to the existing ground infrastructure so it can operate its newest GPS satellites made by Lockheed Martin.
The Air Force on Dec. 21 announced a $462 million contract award to Lockheed Martin to continue the modernization of the GPS ground control system that the company has been maintaining since 2013. The upgrades will allow the Air Force to operate the GPS 3 constellation with the existing ground system until 2025, Lockheed Martin said in a Jan. 11 news release.
The next-generation operational control system, known as OCX, is years behind schedule. The $6 billion system developed by Raytheon was designed to improve the cybersecurity of GPS. The Pentagon last year ordered a major review of OCX and directed Raytheon to accelerate the software development process. The company is expected to complete OCX Block 1 by June 2021.
The upgrades that Lockheed Martin will make to the legacy ground control system ensure that the positioning, navigation and timing missions of the new GPS 3 constellation can be performed with or without OCX, said an industry source.