U.S. Air Force Passes Milestone in GPS III Project

Under the direction of the Lockheed Martin team, the United States military recently took another positive step in the development of the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation GPS-powered aircraft, aptly named the GPS III.  Successfully completed is the PDR (Preliminary Design Review) phase, a significant milestone that will allow the team to move into the next chapter: the CDR (Critical Design Review) stage.

Improving GPS Performance

Colonel Dave Madden, U.S. Air Force GPS Wing Commander, says that the on-schedule completion of the PDR program is a significant design milestone that gives the United States government the utmost confidence that the team will meet its global performance commitments.  He says that their progress is the result of a strong team focused on successfully completing the entire mission and delivering the capabilities that GPS III will provide to GPS users around the world.

Approximately 150 members from the U.S. Air Force GPS Wing, along with those from user communities that include the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense, Air Force Space Command, the Federal Aviation Agency and the Department of Transportation, engaged in the 4-day Space Vehicle PDR at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.  Completion of this milestone serves as validation that the PDR program design meets civil and war fighter requirements and also progresses the GPS III project into the CDR stage.

What GPS III Will Accomplish

Leaders of the U.S. military expect the GPS III to enhance navigation, positioning, and timing services while providing greater anti-jam features to yield superb system security, along with enhanced reliability and accuracy.  The Lockheed Martin team is operating under a $3 billion development contract that was received in May of 2008.   The contact was awarded to enable the production of up to 12 GPS IIIA satellites, with the year 2014 projected as the first scheduled launch.

The overall goal of the next-generation GPS IIIA satellites is to provide major improvements over the existing GPS space vehicles.  These enhancements would include a new international civil signal, as well as boosted M-code anti-jam functionality with complete earth coverage for users in the military.

Dave Podlesney, program director of the Lockheed Martin GPS III team, states that the quality of the PDR shows the maturity of their design, their readiness to embark on the next developmental stage, and most importantly, the entire team’s devotion to making sure the GPS constellation remains efficient.  He added that the team looks forward to an effective and thorough CDR phase, commenting that their commitment to the program will result in success for not only the military, but GPS users around the world.

Through accurate timing and location data, the GPS constellation delivers essential situational awareness and precise weapon guidance for the military.  It also provides support to wide variety of civil, commercial and scientific endeavors, including ATM banking, air traffic control and various internet functions.  Based at the Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado, the U.S. Air Force Space Command’s 2SOPS (2nd Space Operations Squadron) operates and maintains the GPS constellation for both military and civilian users.


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