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Boeing, Lockheed Gain GPS III Contracts; Major Award Seen This Year

By | January 8, 2007

      The Boeing Co. [BA] late last year completed an Air Force review of the Global Positioning System (GPS) Space Segment III, and the company separately gained a roughly $50 million contract for further design work, Boeing announced.

      Rival Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] also late last year completed the review, and received a similar contract of almost $50 million.

      That’s one more step for the competing firms, the two largest defense contractors on the planet, with each of them vying for a multi-billion-dollar prize, a GPS III contract the Air Force will award later this year.

      The Global Positioning Systems Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., will award the major contract.

      That recent Delta System Requirements Review included an incremental-capability insertion approach designed to ensure low development and delivery risks.

      The review, which Boeing said it completed in November, is part of a $10 million follow-on order to the Phase A concept development contract awarded to Boeing in 2004. A similar award was made to Lockheed.

      The subsequent $50 million cost-plus-fixed fee contracts support system design reviews in March and key program decision points in June. That modification adds detailed system engineering and design, and continues risk reduction efforts as the Air Force moves toward initial launch in 2013, or earlier.

      “GPS III sets a new standard for space-based navigation, and the Boeing team is well positioned to provide this next-generation system to ensure U.S. global leadership in space-based navigation,” said Boeing GPS Program Director John Duddy. The advanced GPS system “will provide transformational capabilities, such as anti-jamming, to our customer and our warfighters, along with better accuracy and interoperability with Europe’s Galileo system for our civil and commercial users.”

      Boeing is working with the Air Force to deliver new, advanced GPS capabilities to the military, civil government and the general public as early as possible, according to the company. This includes Boeing’s current production of 12 GPS Block IIF satellites under a contract from the Navstar GPS Wing at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles. Boeing will deliver the first GPS IIF satellite this year.

      GPS III will address the challenging military transformational and civil needs across the globe, including advanced anti-jam capabilities and improved system security, accuracy and reliability, according to Lockheed. The program also will enhance space-based navigation and performance and set a new world standard for positioning and timing services, according to Lockheed.

      “With a successful requirements review accomplished, we have quickly turned our focus to meeting the design requirements under this important contract,” Don DeGryse, vice president of Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems, said recently. “Our team continues to work diligently to provide a low-risk, high-confidence GPS III block approach and we are well prepared to help our customer achieve mission success on this essential program.”

      For GPS III, Lockheed Martin and its navigation payload provider ITT [ITT] are building on their successful experience on the government’s Block IIR and IIR- M programs. The third GPS Block IIR-M satellite was launched Nov. 17 from Cape Canaveral and declared operational for navigation users worldwide on Dec. 12 by the Air Force Space Command at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.

      The fourth GPS Block IIR-M satellite was delivered to Cape Canaveral recently to support a 2007 launch, if requested by the Air Force for constellation sustainment, according to Lockheed.

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