Recent testing of Lockheed Martin’s Global Positioning System III protype concluded the satellite can communicate with the existing GPS constellation already in orbit, announced company officials. The testing of the GPS III nonflight satellite testbed—a full-sized, functioning prototype—concluded Oct. 17 at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. It demonstrated the ability of an Air Force receiver to track navigation signals transmitted by the next generation satellite, states the Nov. 21 release. “These tests represent the first time . . . the GNST’s flight-like hardware has communicated with flight-like hardware from the rest of the GPS constellation and with a navigation receiver,” explained Paul Miller, Lockheed Martin’s director for GPS III Development. “This provides early confidence in the GPS III’s design to bring advanced capabilities to our nation, while also being backward-compatible.” The GPS III will provide three times better accuracy; up to eight times greater anti-jamming capabilities; and extended life expectancy of 25 percent, states the release. The Air Force is expected to receive the first GPS III in 2014 for a 2015 launch. (See also First Launch-Readiness Exercise for GPS III Satellite)
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.