WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center announced on March 31 that it has reached an agreement with Raytheon for the company to replace by April 2022 the hardware used in the next-generation ground control system for the Global Positioning System constellation.

Under the agreement, Raytheon was awarded a $378 million modification to its existing OCX contract to remove the system’s IBM computers and install new Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) hardware.

The total cumulative value of the OCX contract awarded to Raytheon in 2010 is $3.7 billion.

“The contract modification will require Raytheon to replace IBM equipment with HPE equipment for all OCX Block 1 deliverable environments” by April 30, 2022, said the March 31 contract announcement.

SMC on March 27 said Raytheon had been directed to remove from the OCX system the IBM computer hardware for security reasons six years after IBM was sold to a Chinese company.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the IBM x86 product line sale to Chinese-owned Lenovo in August 2014. Under the agreement, IBM had to support the hardware until August 2022.

HPE was selected as the new hardware vendor in 2017. SMC waited to implement the hardware fix until Raytheon showed improved performance in delivering OCX.

Raytheon had said OCX Block 1 would be delivered in June 2021 but the hardware replacement will add 10 months to the schedule.

“Aligned with our original schedule, we will still deliver a fully qualified Block 1 software baseline capable of operating the GPS constellation to the Air Force in early 2021,” Raytheon vice president Bill Sullivan said March 31 in a statement to SpaceNews. “The insertion of HP hardware requires a 10-month adjustment specifically related to delivering that hardware to operational sites.”

Cristina Chaplain, director for acquisition and sourcing management at the Government Accountability Office, told SpaceNews that SMC knew since 2014 that the IBM computers would have to be replaced but expected to do that after OCX development was completed. Because the program ran years behind schedule, SMC had to come up with a different contracting arrangement to get the hardware change made.

“At the time of the IBM sale, the Air Force projected the need to change servers would occur during sustainment,” said Chaplain. “The contract change mitigation arose because of OCX block 1 delivery delays. That means a solution is needed at the conclusion of development instead of sustainment.”

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...