Air Force Space Command is planning to start using GPS satellite tracking, as opposed to radar tracking, to determine the positions of satellites in orbit, officials told reporters during a teleconference Friday. The July 31 launch of the seventh GPS IIF satellite will be the last one that uses the C-Band radar tracking, said Walter Lauderdale, Air Force Space Command GPS IIF-7 mission director. “The Delta IV launch vehicles have been, for several missions, since last year, flying with GPS metric tracking, and starting with the Worldview on the West Coast in the first part of August, Atlas V will also be solely on GPS metric tracking,” he said. AFSPC began pushing for the change in 2008, and United Launch Alliance and the Air Force began transitioning to the GPS system earlier this year. The move is said to help cut costs and provide enhanced range safety information, officials said.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.