Lockheed Martin Receives GPS III Follow-on Contract from US Air Force

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin with a fixed-price production contract worth $7.2 billion for 22 GPS III Follow-On satellites. According to Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson, these satellites will provide greater accuracy, and improved anti-jamming capabilities, making them more resilient.

The USAF currently operates a total of 77 satellites vital to national security that provide communications, command and control, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, weather and GPS for the world. Since Mission Desert Storm, their joint and allied war fighting team has relied on uninterrupted position, navigation and timing signals to employ precision on and over the battlefield. This investment in GPS III will continue to advance the USAF’s capabilities into the future.

The Air Force’s acquisition strategy for this solicitation achieved a balance between mission success, meeting operational needs, opportunities for technology insertion, lowering costs and introducing competition for National Security Space missions. Since the Department of Defense delegated decision authorities on this program to the Air Force, the service saved five months by eliminating an additional layer of reviews and speeding up the source selection process. Additionally, by using a fixed-price contract, the contractor, not the taxpayer, would be responsible for any cost overruns.

The first GPS IIIF satellite is expected to be available for launch in 2026. The Air Force is the lead agency for procuring these satellites. Through this acquisition, they are demonstrating many of the principles of their SMC transformation, according to Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force program executive officer for space. Getting to a manufacturing steady state in a fixed-price environment will allow USAF the opportunity to realize substantial cost savings, deliver on a planned schedule, and provide avenues for needed warfighter capability upgrades in the future.

The US Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the U.S. Air Force's center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch, range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.