US Air Force to award €1.16bn GPS contract

The US Air Force is expected this week to award either Lockheed Martin or Boeing a contract worth about €1.16 billion (US$1.8 billion) to build eight next-generation global positioning satellites.

An Associated Press report also said the deal could ultimately be worth more than €2.59 billion (US$4 billion) as the victor will be in a strong position to win two additional contracts for another 24 satellites for the Pentagon's new GPS III system.

The first GPS III satellites are scheduled for launch in 2014, with all 32 satellites in orbit by 2022
The military relies on GPS systems to provide precision timing and navigation signals for aircraft, guide bombs and missiles, direct troops, map battlefields, conduct minesweeps and perform other operations critical to modern warfare.

Air Force officials declined to comment on the timing of the contract announcement, the Associated Press report further said.

Boeing and Lockheed both already hold satellite contracts for the military's existing GPS II constellation, but Boeing's part of that program has suffered technical problems, delays and cost increases.