USAF plans to launch the Boeing-built GPS IIF satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., May 21 shortly before midnight—the window is 11:25 p.m. to 11:43 p.m. EDT. A problem with some ground support equipment delayed by a day the launch of this first Block IIF, one of 12 Boeing is building that includes stronger and more precise signals and a more jam-resistant military signal than earlier GPS satellites. Col. Dave Madden, GPS Wing commander at the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, said last week that the second IIF would launch later this year, with two to three launched each year until all are on orbit. According to ULA, which notes this is first GPS to launch aboard a Delta IV, if tonight’s mission is scrubbed, the next launch opportunity would be May 22. (Boeing release; ULA release; 45th Space Wing release) (Also read: First GPS IIF Satellite Accepted; Precision Signal; New on the Block)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.