Lockheed upgrading GPS ground systems
Lockheed Martin is providing a series of updates to the GPS ground control system to support the US Air Force in gaining early command and control of GPS III satellites for testing and operations.
The air force will begin launching the next-generation GPS III satellites later in 2018.
Lockheed Martin is working on two programmes: GPS III Contingency Operations (COps) and M-Code Early Use (MCEU), which intended to upgrade the existing architecture evolution plan (AEP) operational control system (OCS), which operates today’s GPS constellation.
These upgrades to the AEP OCS are intended to serve as gap fillers prior to the entire GPS constellation’s operational transition to the next generation Operational Control System (OCX) Block 1, now in development.
In April 2018, the air force approved Lockheed Martin’s critical design for MCEU, allowing the company to proceed with software development and systems engineering to deploy the M-Code upgrade to the legacy AEP OCS. The air force also gave a similar approval to COps in November 2016.
COps is now on schedule for delivery in May 2019 and MCEU is scheduled for delivery in January 2020.
Part of the air force’s overall modernisation plan for the GPS, M-Code is an advanced, new signal designed to improve anti-jamming and anti-spoofing, as well as to increase secure access to military GPS signals for US and allied armed forces.
To accelerate M-Code’s deployment to support testing and fielding of modernised user equipment, MCEU will upgrade the AEP OCS, allowing it to task, upload and monitor M-Code within the GPS constellation. MCEU will provide C2 of M-Code capability to eight GPS IIR-M and 12 GPS IIF satellites currently on orbit, as well as future GPS III satellites.
Following launch and check out, each future GPS III satellite will take its place in the GPS constellation. The COps modifications will allow the AEP OCS to support these more powerful GPS III satellites, enabling them to perform their positioning, navigation and timing missions. Besides the addition of GPS III, COps will also continue to support all the GPS IIR, IIR-M and IIF satellites in the legacy constellation.
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