Lockheed Martin GPS 3 satellite. Credit: Lockheed Martin

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force is buying two more GPS satellites from Lockheed Martin for $511 million. The contract was awarded Oct. 7 but was not publicly announced because it was an option exercised under a 2018 deal.

The Space and Missile Systems Center exercised the option to purchase two GPS 3F satellites, a spokesperson told SpaceNews Dec. 10.

GPS 3F is the newest version of the satellites that provide global positioning, navigation and timing services. They have a fully digital navigation payload and their signals are better protected against jamming and other forms of interference.

In September 2018, the U.S. Air Force agreed to buy up to 22 satellites from Lockheed Martin for $7.2 billion. The company on Sept. 26, 2018, got a $1.3 billion for two GPS 3F satellites known as space vehicles 11 and 12. 

The latest contract is for space vehicles 13 and 14. The $511 million price for satellites 13 and 14 is lower than satellites 11 and 12 because the $1.3 billion 2018 contract included development costs.  

SMC purchased GPS 3F space vehicles 13 and 14 after the satellite passed a critical design review earlier this year. “The program employed an intensive yearlong process which validated the GPS 3F design as a low risk,” said the spokesperson.

SMC said the latest version of GPS 3F has greater anti-jam protection capability as well as a new search-and-rescue hosted payload developed jointly with Canada, a new laser retroreflector array hosted payload, and a redesigned nuclear detonation detection system. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...