Lockheed Martin GPS 3F satellite rendering.
Rendering of a GPS 3F satellite. Credit: Lockheed Martin Credit: Lockheed Martin

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force has ordered three GPS 3F satellites from Lockheed Martin for $737 million. 

The Space Force on Oct. 22 exercised an option to purchase the satellites under a previously awarded contract, a Lockheed Martin spokesperson told SpaceNews Nov. 11.

This is the third contract option awarded to Lockheed Martin under a 2018 agreement worth $7.2 billion for up to 22 satellites  The first was a $1.3 billion order in September 2018 for two GPS 3Fs (space vehicles 11 and 12) and the second in October 2020 was a $511 million contract option for two satellites (space vehicles 13 and 14). 

The new contract option is for GPS 3F space vehicles 15, 16 and 17. GPS 3F is the newest version of the U.S. satellites that provide global positioning, navigation and timing services. 

Lockheed Martin in 2008 won a contract to produce 10 GPS 3 satellites and the company is about to complete the final one as it transitions to the new GPS 3F version. 

Five GPS 3s (space vehicles 1 through 5) have been launched to date. Three fully assembled satellites are in storage waiting to be launched and the final two are still in testing. 

According to the Space Force, GPS 3F satellites will have more advanced anti-jamming capabilities, an upgraded nuclear detection detonation system payload, an improved search and rescue payload, and a laser retroreflector array that provides greater geolocation accuracy.

Lockheed Martin said the GPS 3F satellites, starting with space vehicle 13, will be built on the company’s new LM2100 bus that has new cybersecurity features and more powerful electronics. This bus can be outfitted with the company’s Augmentation System Port Interface (ASPIN) to enable satellites to be refueled and serviced on orbit.

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...