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GPS III Contract Award Set Back

Inside GNSS, July/August 2006

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Okay, now it’s official: The GPS Block III contract award has been delayed from Fiscal Year 2006 (FY06) to Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07).

A request for proposals (RFP) for the GPS Block III satellites will now be released in late December 2006 with selection of a single contractor expected in late June 2007, according to the GPS Joint Program Office (JPO), the U.S. Air Force’s executive agency for GPS acquisitions. That is about a year later than the most recent timeline for the program, which will produce a new generation of satellites.

In the meantime, the GPS JPO has extended the existing GPS Block III Phase A (concept and technology development) contracts, which were competitively awarded to teams led by Lockheed Martin and Boeing in January 2004.

“We have already sent an additional $5 million each for work on risk reduction on the navigation payload, the longest lead-time item,” a JPO source told Inside GNSS. “We’re working with each contractor on the specific amounts for each extension, and plan to know the total amount by August 2006.”

The decision by a USAF Acquisition Strategy Panel meeting in early June, will not delay the scheduled launch of the first GPS III spacecraft, say program officials.

The initial launch of the first GPS Block III satellite is still planned for FY13, as reflected in the president’s FY06 budget, according to a GPS JPO spokesperson. The JPO will “incentivize” an earlier launch in the contract.

Based on direction from the undersecretary of the Air Force, the Block III space vehicle program is proceeding with a block-upgrade strategy and a “back-to-basics” approach to acquisition. “The result will be to incrementally develop and deliver a Block III space vehicle with low risk and high confidence,” said the spokesperson.

Copyright 2006 Gibbons Media and Research LLC

Copyright © 2006 Gibbons Media & Research LLC, all rights reserved.

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