The Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin two fixed-price contracts worth $120 million to procure long-lead-time components for the manufacture of the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth Global Positioning System III navigation satellites, announced the company on Monday. “The GPS III program was laid out at the very beginning to reduce risk early and facilitate affordable satellite production over the long term,” said Lt. Col. Todd Caldwell, the Air Force’s GPS III program manager, in Lockheed Martin’s Feb. 25 release. “This most recent award and our team’s ability to convert the contract structure to fixed price is a sign that we are on track to meet the affordability objectives and commitments we originally set out to achieve,” he added. Lockheed Martin is already building the first four GPS III satellites for the Air Force. These spacecraft are designed to deliver better accuracy and improved anti-jamming power, among their features. The Air Force has plans to purchase up to 32 GPS III spacecraft. Lockheed Martin officials have said they’re working to deliver the first GPS III satellite for launch availability in 2014.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.