The Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) team developing the next-generation Global Positioning System (GPS) spacecraft, known as GPS III, is progressing on-schedule, achieving key milestones in the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) phase with the U.S. Air Force.

GPS III will improve position, navigation and timing services and provide advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability. The first block of the new generation satellites, known as GPS IIIA, will deliver significant enhancements over current GPS space vehicles, including a new international civil signal (L1C), and increased M-Code anti-jam power with full earth coverage for military users.

GPS IIIA also incorporates an aggressive capability insertion program that lowers technology and integration risks associated with the capabilities planned for future GPS III satellites. The capability insertion program will ensure a graceful growth path, minimizing re-design of the GPS IIIA satellites that are necessary to reach the full set of GPS III warfighter capabilities in future increments.

“The joint government-industry team is off to a robust start validating our requirements for this important program,” said Lt. Col. Donald Frew, the U.S. Air Force GPS III program manager. “Our back-to-basics approach in the execution of GPS III is already yielding excellent results and we look forward to achieving a successful segment-level review in May.”

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Newtown, Pa., along with industry partners ITT, Clifton, N.J., and General Dynamics of Gilbert, Ariz., have successfully completed 19 out of 71 PDRs for key GPS III spacecraft subsystems and assemblies. These include L-Band transmitters, antennas, solar arrays, power regulation unit, all attitude control assemblies, as well as the Tracking Telemetry and Command (TT&C) subsystem and all TT&C assemblies. This effort will culminate in an overall GPS III Segment PDR in May to ensure the preliminary design meets warfighter and civil requirements prior to advancing into the Critical Design Review phase.

“Our progress in the preliminary design review stage is the result of an integrated government-industry team focused on achieving operational excellence and mission success,” said Dave Podlesney, Lockheed Martin’s GPS III program director. “We look forward to completing a comprehensive and efficient PDR phase to ensure a seamless transition to the critical design review phase for the vitally important program.”

The team is working under a $1.4 billion Development and Production contract awarded in May 2008 by the Global Positioning Systems Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., to produce the first two GPS IIIA satellites, with first launch projected for 2014. The contract also includes options for up to 10 additional spacecraft.

The GPS constellation provides critical situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military and supports a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions – from air traffic control to the Internet – with precision location and timing information. Air Force Space Command’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 146,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.