Aerospace & Defense

Information Technology


Emerging Capabilities

Global Positioning System (GPS)


About GPS.
GPS technology is found in everything from cell phones and wristwatches to shipping containers, and ATM's.  The system boosts productivity in almost every aspect of society and across a wide swath of the economy, to include farming, construction mining, surveying, supply chain management and more. Major communications networks, banking systems, financial markets, and power grids depend on GPS and the technology is embedded in virtually every component of U.S. military operations.  

GPS satellites now on orbit are aging quickly and users are demanding more capability. To sustain and modernize the constellation, the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin are building the next generation satellite system, known as GPS III.

GPS III will improve position, navigation and timing services and provide advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability. The first GPS III satellites will deliver signals three times more accurate than current GPS spacecraft and provide three times more power for military users, while also enhancing the spacecraft’s design life and adding a civil L1C signal designed to be carried on other international Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).

On Contract
In 2008, Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract for the design, development and production of the GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST) and the first two GPS III satellites, with priced options for up to 10 additional satellites. In late 2013, the U.S. Air Force exercised a $200 million option for the production of its fifth and sixth GPS III satellites. The Air Force plans to purchase up to 32 GPS III satellites.

The Team
The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the GPS III prime contractor with teammates Exelis, General Dynamics, Infinity Systems Engineering, Honeywell, ATK and other subcontractors. 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.

Lockheed Martin’s GPS Heritage
For GPS III, Lockheed Martin will build on its proven record of providing progressively advanced spacecraft for the current GPS constellation.

Lockheed Martin designed and built 21 GPS IIR satellites for the Air Force and subsequently modernized eight of those spacecraft, designated GPS IIR-M, to enhance operations and navigation signal performance. The fleet of Lockheed Martin-built GPS IIR and IIR-M satellites makes up the majority of the operational GPS constellation today. The satellites have exceeded 150 cumulative operational years on-orbit with a reliability record of better than 99.9 percent, an unmatched record of exceptional performance and reliability for GPS users around the globe.

Lockheed Martin heritage also dates back to the production of the Oscar and Nova satellites, the original navigation programs that paved the way to the current GPS system. Learn more about the history of navigation here.

GPS Navigation

GPS Navigation


GPS How Video

United Launch Alliance GPS IIR-21M Launch Video

GPS IIR-21M Launch

GPS III Rotation

Credit: Jefferson County Economic Development Council

Lockheed Martin GPS III in orbit

Lockheed Martin Space Systems won an Innovative Technology award at the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation's 19th annual Industry Appreciation Awards Breakfast on March 22, 2012. The award was given to acknowledge Lockheed Martin's GPS III program Credit: Jefferson County Economic Development Council

U.S. Air Force Awarded $238 Million Contract By Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) awarded the U.S. Air Force a $238 million contract for production of the third and fourth satellites in the next-generation Global Positioning constellations, also known as the GPS III. - Credit: Financial News Network

The Truth About GPS: How it works

Col. David Buckman, Air Force Space Command, talks about GPS, how it works, and modernization. Credit: - Air Force Space Command

From the APL Vault: Transit and the Birth of GPS

When Sputnik was launched in 1957, two Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab engineers listened to the radio beacon the satellite emitted as it circled the Earth -- and had an idea. That idea became Transit, the world's first global positioning system, developed at APL. Credit: - Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

GPS Navigation

GPS Navigation


An artist’s rendering of the GPS II-R satellite


A Lockheed Martin engineer works on a GPS IIR-M satellite


A Lockheed Martin engineer checks out a GPS IIR spacecraft

GPS III Core Structure

The core structure of the GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST) stands vertical in Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility.

GPS III Anechoic Chamber

Jim Keyser, manager of Lockheed Martin’s GPS Processing Facility, stands in the Anechoic test chamber where the company will perform tests on the GPS III spacecraft to ensure all its signals and interfaces work properly.


An artist’s rendering of the GPS III satellite


An artist’s rendering of the GPS II-R satellite