The GPS III satellite program is expected to miss a critical deadline due to a delay of its Exelis-provided navigational payload, according to Defense Systems. However, Air Force officials have said that they are confident that it will not delay the overall constellation of Lockheed Martin satellites.
The GPS III program is expected to replace legacy GPS satellites and provide upgraded capabilities, including new anti-jamming capabilities, three times the positional accuracy, and a 25 percent longer spacecraft life, according to Lockheed Martin.
The first GPS III satellite was originally expected to be delivered this year, but this recent delay may push the delivery date into 2015.
“I think the date was at the end of FY14 and we’re going to slip well past that now,” Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, commented at a breakfast in Washington, that Defense News reported on. “But we hadn’t intended to launch this thing until into ’15 anyway. So that’s why I say I think we’re going to be fine.
“We haven’t determined exactly what the slip is going to be. Maybe we can still make what was going to be our date, but in terms of their contracting date, that’s where we’re going to drive past.”
Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder said in a statement that the delay is largely a result of issues surrounding integration.
“The problems were largely first-time development and integration issues, including required design changes to eliminate ‘signal crosstalk,’ or interference between the signals on the satellite.”
The Air Force has plans to build up to 32 satellites for the new GPS constellation.