Boeing bows out of GPS 3 competition

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Boeing executive Rico Attanasio: "The decision came down to “what the government asked for in the request for proposals.”

COLORADO SPRINGS — Boeing has decided to not challenge Lockheed Martin for the next production lot of up to 22 GPS 3 satellites.

“We have not put in a proposal for GPS 3,” said Rico Attanasio, Boeing’s director of Department of Defense and civil navigation and communications programs.

Bids were due this week. “As you can imagine, this was a very difficult decision for us,” Attanasio told SpaceNews in an interview during the 34th Space Symposium.

Boeing built earlier versions of GPS satellites but Lockheed has been the only producer of the GPS 3 version and is now under contract to build 10 satellites.

The Air Force made it known it wanted to open up the program, awarding pre-production contracts in 2016 to Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed.

In February, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center issued a request for proposals for the production of up to 22 satellites, starting in the coming fiscal year. The next production lot is expected to be for satellites 11 through 32 and worth about $10 billion.

Attanasio said the decision came down to “what the government asked for in the request for proposals.”

“When we bid on things we have to evaluate if we have a chance to win or not,” he added. “The criteria in the RFP emphasized recurring production.”

Boeing thought it could compete based on “innovation, resilience [and] a new payload, but that wasn’t emphasized,” said Attanasio. “It wasn’t a good fit for us.”

Lockheed Martin on Tuesday announced it has submitted a proposal for the next generation of GPS 3, called GPS 3F. “Lockheed Martin’s proposal for the GPS 3F program adds further power, resiliency and capabilities to GPS 3,” the company said.

The head of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson told reporters in November that he expected more than one competitor to bid for the next GPS 3 lot. “The market research we’ve done over the past couple of years clearly indicates there is strong and viable competition in the market,” Thompson said.

Northrop Grumman spokesman Lon Rains declined to comment on whether the company submitted a bid.