WASHINGTON, U.S. - As part of a major plan to modernize the GPS constellation of satellites, the U.S. Air Force has announced its new contract that was awarded to Lockheed Martin.
As part of the contract worth $7.2 billion, Lockheed Martin will build 22 next-generation Global Positioning System satellites for the Air Force.
In its announcement, the Air Force said that the so-called GPS III follow-on satellites are expected to be available for launch into space beginning in 2026.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a statement, “The world is dependent on GPS, from getting directions to getting cash from an ATM machine or trading on the stock exchange. These satellites will provide greater accuracy, and improved anti-jamming capabilities making them more resilient.”
Further, the Air Force chief of staff General David Goldfein said that the new-generation satellites would provide important improvements to the system.
Explaining the modernization plans, Goldfein said that since the 1991 Gulf war, the U.S. military has “relied on uninterrupted position, navigation and timing signals to employ precision on and over the battlefield.”
Adding, “This investment in GPS III continues to advance our capabilities into the future.”
Meanwhile, commenting on the contract, Lockheed program manager Johnathon Caldwell said that the GPS III follow-on contract would lift the GPS system to a “whole new level.”
He added in the company's statement, “It takes full advantage of our flexible satellite design to incorporate additional new technology like a 100 percent digital navigation payload, regional military protection and new search and rescue payloads."
According to the company, the first ten of the GPS III satellites are expected to be in orbit by 2023.