As the U.S. Air Force prepares to launch its second next-generation GPS III satellite, L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) delivered its eighth navigation payload to GPS III satellite prime contractor Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT).
The first GPS III satellite launched in December 2018 and its navigation payload has performed beyond expectations on-orbit during pre-operational testing. In May, the Air Force declared the third GPS III satellite “Available for Launch,” pending a launch date. L3Harris payloads are also already fully integrated in the GPS III 4-6 space vehicles currently in production and testing at Lockheed Martin.
The GPS III navigation payload features a Mission Data Unit (MDU) with a unique 70-percent digital design that links atomic clocks, radiation-hardened processors and powerful transmitters —– enabling signals three times more accurate than those on current GPS satellites. The payload also boosts signal power, which increases jamming resistance by eight times and helps extend the satellite’s lifespan.
In 2017, L3Harris announced that it completed development of an even more-powerful, fully digital MDU for the Air Force’s GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) program. The new GPS IIIF payload design will further enhance the satellite’s capabilities and performance.
In September 2018, the U.S. Air Force selected Lockheed Martin for a fixed-price-type production contract for up to 22 GPS IIIF satellites. L3Harris is Lockheed Martin’s navigation signal partner for GPS IIIF satellites, and in January received a $243 million award to provide the navigation signals for the first two GPS IIIF satellites, space vehicles number 11 and 12.
L3Harris’ expertise in creating and sending GPS signals extends back to the mid-1970s, providing navigation technology for every U.S. GPS satellite ever launched. While the U.S. Air Force originally developed GPS for warfighters, millions of people around the world and billions of dollars of commerce now depend on the accurate, reliable signal created and sent by L3Harris navigation technology.