WASHINGTON — The cost of the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation positioning, navigation and timing satellite constellation and its associated ground network has grown by $1.1 billion in the last 12 months, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

In its annual space acquisition report to Congress April 29, the GAO said the current price tag for the GPS 3 program is $4.9 billion for the satellites and $4.1 billion for the ground system, known as the Operational Control Segment, or OCX. Those figures are up from $4.4 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively, from the same report last year.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the satellites. The report cites a 28-month delay in the launch of the first satellite due largely to trouble developing the navigation payload. The Air Force is creating new baselines for its cost estimates, which is expected to be completed in July 2015, the report said.

“Additional delays or problems discovered during tests of the first satellite could require rework to the remaining satellites in production — carrying the risk of further cost growth,” the report said.

Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services is prime contractor for the ground system. Key updates from that program will be delivered about four years later than planned, the report said. The delays are due to a “higher-than-expected level of software defects” and “significant rework and code growth.”


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.