ORLANDO, Fla. — Six U.S. industry teams are gearing up for a long-delayed U.S. Air Force launch range modernization and support contract potentially valued at $3 billion over 10 years, with a final request for proposals expected this spring followed by an award before the end of the calendar year.

The Launch and Test Range System Integrated Support Contract (LISC) will consolidate three separate contracts covering operations, support, maintenance, modernization and logistics at the Air Force’s two main launch ranges: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Currently that work is divided among three separate contracts held by a Raytheon-Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) team, InDyne Corp. and ITT Exelis Inc.

According to solicitation information posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the LISC contractor will support range functions including launch vehicle command destruct, communications, weather monitoring, radar operations, telemetry, data handling and modeling and simulation. The ranges support satellite launches, missile tests and other activities.

The Air Force is requesting $110 million for its overall Spacelift Range System in 2013, of which $71 million would go toward modernization with the remainder earmarked for maintenance, according to Pentagon budget documents released Feb. 13. The 2012 budget for those activities was $125 million, with $74 million going toward modernization under existing contracts.

LISC will be the primary activity in the Spacelift Range System budget account once the prime contract is awarded, which according to the budget documents will occur early in the 2013 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The LISC consolidation is expected to save money by reducing overlaps and to maximize launch readiness, according to retired Air Force Gen. Lance Lord, chief executive of Cape Canaveral-based L2 Aerospace, which is competing for the job. According to the budget documents, aging equipment at the ranges has decreased reliability, raising cost and increasing the risk of launch delays.

Lord is the executive lead of the Consolidated Range Enterprise (CoRE), a LISC bidding team whose members also include Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions of Gaithersburg, Md.; InDyne of Reston, Va.; and URS Corp. of San Francisco.

Art Glaab, LISC capture team leader at Boeing Defense, Space and Security of St. Louis, said release of the final request for proposals is a few months behind schedule, which is not unusual given the complexity of space-related programs. Boeing announced its intent to compete for the LISC work in June and is teaming with Science Applications International Corp. of McLean, Va.; LJT & Associates of Columbia, Md.; and Global AOC World Services of Irvine, Calif.

“The customer is moving forward and we are encouraged by what we see,” Glaab said.

A LISC industry day was held Jan. 12 at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, Calif., during which the bidding teams conducted one-on-one meetings with representatives from the Air Force, industry officials said. The teams also recently conducted site visits at Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg and Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., the officials said.

Four other contractor teams have declared their intent to compete for LISC. CSC has joined forces with Honeywell Corp. of Morristown, N.J.; Raytheon Technical Services of Reston is leading a team that includes General Dynamics, ASRC Aerospace Corp., ARES Corp, Schafer Corp. and World Technical Services; ITT Exelis of Herndon is bidding with BAE Systems and L-3 Communications; and Northrop Grumman Technical Services of Herndon, Va., also is competing for the work.

Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.