LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. — The Air Force released a final Request for Proposal (RFP) for Global Positioning System (GPS) III Launch Services, Sept. 30. Launch services include launch vehicle production, mission integration and launch operations for a GPS III mission scheduled to launch in 2018. Proposals are due back to the Air Force no later than Nov. 16 in accordance with the solicitation instructions.

After evaluating proposals through a competitive, best-value source selection process, the Air Force will award a firm-fixed price contract that will provide the government with a total launch solution for the GPS III satellite. The Air Force’s acquisition strategy for this solicitation achieves a balance between mission success, meeting operational needs, lowering launch costs, and reintroducing competition for National Security Space missions.

“Through this competitive solicitation for GPS III launch services, we hope to reintroduce competition in order to promote innovation and reduce cost to the taxpayer while maintaining our steadfast laser focus on mission assurance and assured access to space,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space.

This will be a standalone contract for one GPS III launch. GPS III is the next generation of GPS satellites that will introduce new capabilities to meet the higher demands of both military and civilian users.

GPS III is expected to provide improved anti-jamming capabilities as well as improved accuracy for precision navigation and timing. It will incorporate the common L1C signal which is compatible with the European Space Agency’s Galileo global navigation satellite system and compliment current services with the addition of new civil and military signals.

This is the first of nine competitive launch services planned in the FY 2016 President’s Budget Request under the current Phase 1A procurement strategy, which covers awards with FY 2015-2017 funding. The next solicitation for launch services will be for a second GPS III mission. The Phase 1A procurement strategy reintroduces competition for national security space launch services. Under the previous Phase 1 strategy, United Launch Alliance (ULA) was the only certified launch provider. In 2013, ULA was awarded a sole-source contract for launch services as part of an Air Force “block buy” of 36 rocket cores that resulted in significant savings for the government through FY 2017.

In May, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) was certified for EELV launches resulting in two launch service providers that are qualified to design, produce, qualify, and deliver a launch capability and provide the mission assurance support required to deliver national security space satellites to orbit.

“With the recent certification of SpaceX, we now have multiple launch service providers that can service critical NSS missions. Reintroducing competition into EELV will ultimately save taxpayer dollars and increase assured access to space. ” said Dr. Claire Leon, director of SMC’s Launch Enterprise Directorate.

“As part of this reintroduction of competition, we’ve been working with our industry partners to develop and finalize this RFP,” said Dr. Leon. “Their feedback has been critical to developing the criteria for this source selection and how we are innovating government processes to better match commercial processes as directed by OSD’s Better Buying Power 3.0. This is an exciting time in NSS launch acquisitions.”

The Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force’s center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.