United States Air Force Set to Buy Jam-Resistant GPS Satellites

The Pentagon has plans to spend approximately $2 billion over the next five years, investing in 22 new Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. The solicitation for bids was posted by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center on February 13, with production to begin in 2019. This is in addition to the 10 they have already ordered from manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Corp.

These satellites are unique in that are virtually jam-resistant, capable of functioning despite any nearby electronic interference. The Air Force intends on using these satellites in contested areas, where hostile nations may try to interfere with communication devices.

This is one of the biggest opportunities in the military space industry, with experts believing it could cost as much as $10 billion to complete work. Business insiders anticipate incoming bids from Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. All proposals must be submitted before April 16. The Air Force is expected to make an announcement in late spring or early summer.

Funds for this project are expected to come from the Pentagon’s 2019 budget. The budget request included approximately $450 million to fund the design, engineering, and procurement for two of the three GPS 3 satellites. Delivery of the first satellite is expected to occur in 2026.

The so-called GPS constellation, a collection of GPS satellites owned and operated by the Air Force, is a major source of pride for the organization. They help billions of people worldwide with positioning, navigation, and timing. The new GPS 3 satellites are meant to replace aging and broken GPS 2 vehicles as they are decommissioned. The very first GPS 3 has already been declared ready for launch and is scheduled to be put into orbit on a SpaceX rocket in March of 2018.