GeoCarta Has Moved

Sep 12, 2007

GPS III Decision Delayed Until December

Bob Brewin at has waded through the fine print from the GSA’s Federal Business Opportunities Web site and determined the U.S. Air Force has pushed back its decision on a contractor for the next-generation Global Positioning System satellites, known as "GPS III" until December:
Last week the Space and Missile Systems Center announced it intended to award sole source contracts to Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which are competing for the multi-billion GPS III contract, for something called “GPS Phase A Sub System Risk Reduction.”

Buried in that contract notice is the speed bump: a line that says that the GPS III Key Decision Point-B has been delayed from August until December. If you want to know what that means, it’s easy to find out if you happen to have, hanging around the office, a copy of chapter 39, Title 10 of the U.S Code, section 2366a.

That code says, in quite plain English, that any major Defense Department project cannot proceed unless higher-ups in the Pentagon determine that the program is affordable, that its technology has been demonstrated in a relevant environment and the program demonstrates a “high likelihood” of accomplishing its intended mission.

The Space and Missile Systems Center sugar-coated this delay by saying that the Risk Reduction contracts awarded to Boeing and Lockheed will provide them with additional time for system design work, including mature space system design and navigation payload subsystem design.

But time is running out if the Air Force wants to design and build GPS III satellites to replace those satellites on-orbit within six years. The Government Accountability Office reported this April that among if the first GPS III satellite is not launched by 2013 “constellation sustainment will be at risk.”

Defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing are competing for the multibillion-dollar contract to supply the Air Force with up to 32 next-generation GPS satellites.

See also: GPS III Bid Process About to Begin