Military Embedded Systems

GPS satellite ground system upgrade gets Air Force approval


December 12, 2016

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

GPS satellite ground system upgrade gets Air Force approval

DENVER. Lockheed Martin's upgrade design the current GPS satellite ground control system got Air Force approval to move forward. The enhancements include new capabilities that will enable the system to operate more powerful and accurate GPS III satellites.

This Critical Design Review (CDR) for the Contingency Operations (COps) contract, completed last month, green lights Lockheed Martin engineers to move forward on software development and systems engineering to modify the existing GPS ground control system, named the Architecture Evolution Plan (AEP) Operational Control Segment. The AEP is currently maintained by the company and controls the 31 GPS IIR, IIR-M and IIF satellites now in orbit.

The COps modifications will enable the AEP to support the next generation GPS Block III satellites, allowing them to perform their positioning, navigation, and timing mission, once launched. COps is seen as a temporary gap filler prior to the entire GPS constellation's move to operations onto the next generation Operational Control System (OCX) Block 1, currently in development.

The Air Force awarded the $96 million COps services and supplies contract to Lockheed Martin early this year. The government then approved the company's proposed ground system modification during a Preliminary Design Review in May.

On October 15, under a separate contract, Lockheed Martin finished the Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) Upgrade #2 (CUP2) project -- which is part of a multi-year plan to upgrade the AEP's technology and enhance the system's ability to protect data and infrastructure from internal and external cyber threats, as well as enhance its overall sustainability and operability. CUP2 is now fully operational and managing the current GPS constellation.

Lockheed Martin also is under contract to develop and build the Air Force's first ten GPS III satellites, which are expected to provide three times better accuracy, provide as much as eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities, and extend spacecraft life to 15 years, about 25 percent longer than the newest GPS satellites on-orbit today. GPS III's new L1C civil signal also will make it the first GPS satellite to be interoperable with other international global navigation satellite systems.

For additional GPS III information, photos and video visit:


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