Raytheon, Northrop Grumman Win GPS OCX Contracts
[11-29-07 – Satellite News] The competition to develop the ground segment for the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation GPS constellation has entered its second phase, as Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Co. received contracts to continue work on their systems.
The GPS Next Generation Control Segment (OCX) segment, which includes satellite command and control, mission planning, constellation management, monitoring stations and ground antennas, will replace the current Operational Control System, maintaining backwards compatibility with the Block 2R and 2R-M satellite constellation and enabling new modernized capabilities on board the Block 2R-M and 2F satellites, the Air Force said. In addition, OCX will provide command and control of new capabilities associated with GPS 3 satellites.
"The new capabilities provided by OCX will be the cornerstone for revolutionizing GPS C2 and mission capabilities," Air Force Col. Dave Madden, commander of the GPS Wing at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a statement. "OCX will shift the focus of GPS operations from satellite C2, transforming the C2 to user-oriented, effects-based operations, enabling Air Force Space Command to greatly enhance GPS operational services to our nation’s combat forces, civil partners and a myriad of domestic and international users.”
Under a pair of 18-month contracts valued at about $160 million apiece, the two companies will produce trade studies, define requirements and develop engineering models for their proposals.
The system will be a substantial improvement over the current GPS ground control segment, Steve Bergjans, vice president and program manager for Northrop Grumman OCX, said. “This new system, the modernization of the control segment, that’s going to be important for the military user, and eventually for users worldwide,” he said. “One thing that the current control system is unable to do is to take advantage of some of the new signal capabilities that the satellites have that current control segments can’t. Some of these involve high precision signals and positioning capabilities for the military users. It’s really important for the warfighters to keep OCX on schedule and get them deployed so we can start deploying those new capabilities as soon as possible.”
The Air Force has split the competition for GPS, with Boeing and Lockheed Martin competing to build the satellites, while Northrop Grumman and Raytheon will develop the ground segment. It was this approach that allowed Raytheon to compete, said J.J. Dormer, operations manager for the GPS OCX segment for Raytheon.
“Raytheon doesn’t build satellites, that’s what makes this contract so exciting for us,” said Dormer. “This is a paradigm shift for the customer. Traditionally, if you want to buy a satellite system, you procure the satellite and the satellite provider builds a ground system to fly their satellite. We’ve been doing that for 40 years. But this is the first time it’s been a separate contract so we can pursue it independently of the provider. The contention we’re shooting for is to prove that the ground system is enduring. It doesn’t matter which satellite provider provides the physical bus that we control.”
The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center will award a contract worth about $1 billion to complete OCX development. Lockheed Martin was eliminated from the competition.