WASHINGTON — Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems of Aurora, Colo., has been awarded a change order worth as much as $8.5 million to assure a new GPS military signal works with the satellite navigation constellation’s next-generation ground segment, according to a Dec. 24 announcement from the Pentagon.

The work on the GPS Operational Control Segment (OCX) under the contract modification is specifically on the M-code implementation, the announcement said. M-code is the new highly secure, anti-jam signal designed for the GPS 3 constellation. The current GPS ground control system does not have M-code capability. 

OCX is designed to work with the advanced GPS 3 positioning, navigation and timing satellites, slated to start launching in 2015, and also will be backward compatible with existing GPS satellites. Raytheon won the $886.4 million prime contract to develop the OCX in February 2010. 

Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, said in July that the first couple of GPS 3 satellites will launch before the associated ground system is ready. 

The work associated with the change order is expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2016, the announcement said. 

The Air Force’s 2014 budget request included $273 million for OCX development.

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Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...