The U.S. Air Force on Monday said it awarded Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., each $20.8 million in new contracts to continue work on the next generation of the Global Positioning System. Chicago-based Boeing and Lockheed, based in Bethesda, Maryland, are vying for what will be a multi-billion contract to build the new GPS III satellite-based navigation system, which will replace aging navigation satellites now in use. The current GPS constellation of satellites provides precise navigation and timing to worldwide military and civilian users 24 hours a day and in all weather conditions.
Under the new contracts, which run through December 2005, the two companies will conduct studies culminating in a system requirements review in the fourth quarter of 2004, with the Air Force expected to choose a single company to build GPS III in the fourth quarter of 2005, Lockheed said in a statement. Lockheed said GPS III would offer major improvements in reliability, accuracy, assured service delivery and flexibility, offering advanced anti-jam capabilities and improved system security through the use of encryption. Initial launch of a GPS III satellite could come as early as 2010, according to some satellite industry experts.