Global Positioning System (GPS)

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Product Type:

Satellite System - Navigation

Using Service (US):

Air Force (USAF)

Program Status:

In Production (Block IIIA)

Prime Contractors:

GPS IIF: The Boeing Company
GPS IIIA: Lockheed Martin Corporation
GPS OCX Phase A: Raytheon Company

The Global Positioning System (GPS)

About the GPS Program:

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a constellation of orbiting satellites that provides navigation data to military and civilian users all over the world. As of July 2017, there are 30 GPS Block II satellites in the constellation. The system is operated and controlled by the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base (AFB) in Colorado. GPS provides a global, three-dimensional positioning, navigation, and timing information system - used by the U.S. military for aircraft, artillery, ships, tanks and other weapon systems.

GPS satellites orbit the earth every 12 hours and send continuous navigation signals. Users can receive these signals to calculate time, location and velocity. The GPS signals are so accurate that time can be figured to within a millionth of a second, velocity within a fraction of a mile per hour, and location to within 100 feet.

GPS provides 24-hour navigation services including:
-Extremely accurate, three-dimensional location information
-A global common grid that is easily converted to any local grid
-Passive all-weather operations
-Continuous real-time information
-Support to an unlimited number of users and areas
-Support to civilian users at a slightly less accurate level.

The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program supports the launch of GPS satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida. GPS satellites are launched into 11,000-mile circular orbits. While orbiting the earth, the current systems transmit signals on two different L-band frequencies. GPS II satellites have a design life of 7.5 years, but many remain operational for as long as 10-12 years or more.

GPS capabilities were put to the test during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Allied troops relied heavily on GPS to navigate the featureless desert. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the GPS satellite constellation allowed the delivery of GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) with pinpoint precision (to about 10 feet) and with minimal collateral damage.

The Block I satellites, built by Rockwell International (now Boeing), were launched from 1978 to 1985. The last of 11 Block I satellites was turned off in November 1995. The Block II satellites, were launched from 1989 to 2016. A total of 55 satellites were launched of which 30 are still in operation. 37 Block II/IIA were built by Rockwell International (now Boeing); 13 Block IIR and 8 Block IIR-M were built by Lockheed Martin; and 12 Block IIFs were built by Boeing. The final Block IIF satellite was launched on February 5, 2016.

GPS IIIA Satellite:

The newest GPS satellite, the Lockheed Martin GPS IIIA payload, will deliver significant enhancements, including a new L1C (civil) Galileo-compatible signal and enhanced M-code earth coverage power. The GPS IIIA satellites will deliver signals three times more accurate than current GPS payloads and provide three times more power for military users, while at the same time enhancing design life and adding a new civil signal - designed to be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems. The GPS III production team consists of Lockheed Martin, Exelis (now part of Harris Corp.), General Dynamics, Honeywell, and Infinity Systems Engineering. The Air Force currently plans to purchase ten GPS IIIA satellites (two development + eight production satellites), however, more will follow in future increments. Initial launch was planned for 2014 but has been delayed until 2018.

In May 2008, the first GPS III contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin for the development and production of two initial space vehicles (SV-1 and SV-2), with options for up to ten additional SVs.

Raytheon GPS OCX:

Raytheon is producing the GPS OCX, which is the next generation Global Positioning System Advanced Control Segment. The OCX will provide command and control of the GPS IIR, IIR-M, IIF, and IIIA satellites and replaces the OCX Master Control Station and Alternate Master Control Station. Also, the OCX upgrades the U.S. Air Force and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) monitor stations and modifies the existing ground antennas. Furthermore, the OCX provides monitoring of all current GPS signals as well as the new L1C, L2C, L5, and M-Code signals. The Raytheon production team includes Boeing, Exelis (Harris Corp.), Braxton Technologies, Infinity Systems Engineering, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

GPS III Production Forecast:

A 15-year GPS III production forecast is available through Forecast International's Platinum Forecast System, which includes a breakout of total market unit and value statistics by manufacturer and end-user. This real-time service also includes information on all prime and subcontractors, contract awards, no. of active GPS II/III satellites/systems, a complete GPS II/III program history, and a rationale detailing the outlook of the program. A 10-year GPS III production forecast is also available in report format through Forecast International's Space Systems Forecast service.


The GPS constellation provides worldwide positioning, navigation, and precise time to military and civilian users.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - GPS III DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co.,
and Boeing.

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