GPS III passes compatibility test

Lockheed Martin said its prototype next-generation Global Positioning System satellite can communicate with the existing GPS satellite constellation.

During compatibility testing in October at Cape Canaveral, Fla., the company said its GPS III testbed communicated via cross-links to Air Force simulators of the current GPS constellation in orbit. Lockheed Martin said the simulations showed that GPS III is backward-compatible with the existing navigation system.

The testing also demonstrated the ability of an Air Force receiver to track signals from the GPS III test bed.

The first GPS III satellite is expected to be launched by the Air Force in 2015. Lockheed Martin will supply the first four GPS III satellites and is under contract to supply components for four additional satellites.

The next-generation navigation system will provide a three-fold increase in accuracy and, according to the manufacturer, will be more resistant to jamming.

The GPS III testbed was delivered to the Air Force in July. In August, the system demonstrated the ability to connect and communicate a next-generation GPS ground station developed by Raytheon Corp.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for GPS III system. Subcontractors include ATK, General Dynamics, Infinity Systems Engineering, ITT Exelis and Honeywell.

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