US Defense GPS project attracts contractors

Contractors have lined up to bid on the US Air Force's multibillion-dollar upgrade plan for the global positioning system, a satellite network widely used by civilian and military users, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Lockheed Martin and Boeing will square off over building the next generation of GPS satellites.

The competition formally began last month when the Air Force released its final request for proposals; bids are due August 27. The plan calls for buying an initial installment of eight GPS III satellites, with launches starting in 2013.

The Associated Press report said the goal is a reliable and more accurate GPS system that can keep up with heavy demand from the military and industry.

Meanwhile, the Air Force is moving much faster on the ground-based control system for the satellites, which it plans to buy separately from the new spacecraft, the report said. The so-called GPS OCX project will work with existing satellites and satellite upgrades that are already under contract, as well as the new system once it launches.

Around October, the Air Force is expected to pick two of the three ground-system bidders for a pair of $160 million development contracts. Final plans to build and implement the system aren't set yet, the Air Force said.

The industry has welcomed the Air Force's decision to split the ground and space parts of the GPS upgrade, a departure from past purchasing practice.