Lockheed Martin has navigated its way ahead of Boeing to win the Air Force’s Global Positioning System Block III satellite contest, securing an initial $1.46 billion contract for the first increment of the next-generation satellites, DOD announced May 15. “Lockheed Martin is proud to serve as the US Air Force’s partner on this critical national program,” said Joanne Maguire, executive vice president of Lockheed’s Space Systems Company, in the company’s May 15 statement. Under the contract, Lockheed’s team, which includes ITT and General Dynamics, will supply the first two GPS Block IIIA satellites, the first of which is projected for launch in 2014. The contract includes options for up to 10 additional GPS IIIA production satellites, DOD said. More capable Block IIIB and Block IIIC satellites will follow, bringing the future constellation to more than 30 satellites. Timing-wise the decision hits losing bidder Boeing hard, since the Chicago-based aerospace giant remains in the midst of a series of defeats in big-ticket defense competitions starting with its loss in USAF’s KC-X tanker contest Feb. 29, and continuing with losses in a joint-service radio program and Navy unmanned aerial vehicle contest.
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.