Space

Navy awards a $178M contract to update GPS systems

The Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific has awarded Booz Allen Hamilton a $178 million contract for to modernize GPS systems in partnership with the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, the company reported Jan. 24.

The Naval Information Warfare Center heads the Navy’s research, development, and engineering efforts for space systems, and its Positioning, Navigation and Timing Division oversees research and development for the service’s navigation sensors and systems.

Under the contract, Booz Allen will support the modernization of the GPS architecture, specifically through programs such as Military GPS User Equipment, GPS III and the Next Generation Operational Control System. In other words, the company will help the Navy and Air Force modernize all three segments of the GPS enterprise, from the user terminal to the ground system to the new GPS III satellites. Booz Allen will provide system definition, requirements synchronization, capability improvement, cybersecurity engineering, platform integration and testing and acquisition program management.

The contract comes at a key moment for GPS, with the first GPS III satellite on orbit and online and the military working to ensure that ground systems are capable of fully interacting with and utilizing the new satellites’ more advanced features, including increased accuracy and stronger anti-jamming capabilities. While the Next Generation Operational Control System being custom built to work with the GPS III satellites is years behind its original schedule, the Air Force has contract with Lockheed Martin to provide a contingency operations software update that allows the current ground segment to work with the new, more advanced satellites.

According to a Jan. 30 report from the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, slips in scheduling to all three segments of the GPS enterprise have caused testing delays. Those delays, especially to the user segment, could lead to integration issues for those platforms developed to rely on GPS.

“The Air Force has improved the GPS Enterprise schedule by addressing schedule and performance risks; however, articulation of program risks with stakeholders continues to be incomplete, increasing the probability of unmitigated risks causing further program problems and delays,” the report warned.

The Air Force plans to conduct operational testing of the enterprise in 2020.

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