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ManufacturerLockheed Martin
Country of origin United States
OperatorUnited States Air Force
ApplicationsSatellite navigation
BusLockheed Martin A2100M[1]
Design life(TBD)
RegimeSemi-synchronous MEO
On order22[2]
Maiden launchNET 2026 (planned)[3]
Last launch2034 (planned)[4]
← GPS Block IIIA

GPS Block IIIF, or GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF), is the second set of GPS III satellites, consisting of 22 space vehicles. The United States Air Force began the GPS Block IIIF acquisition effort in 2016, and awarded a 7.2 billion US dollar manufacturing contract for all 22 space vehicles to Lockheed Martin on September 14, 2018.[2][4][5][3] The 22 satellites in Block IIIF are projected to be delivered starting in 2026, with launches estimated to last through at least 2034.[3][4]


The U.S. Air Force employed a two-phase competitive bid acquisition process for the GPS Block IIIF satellites.

Phase One: Production Feasibility Assessment[edit]

On May 5, 2016, the U.S. Air Force awarded three Phase One Production Readiness Feasibility Assessment contracts for GPS III Space Vehicles (SV's) 11+, one each to Boeing Network and Space Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.[5][6] The phase one contracts were worth up to six million dollars each.[7] During the phase one effort, both Boeing and Northrop Grumman successfully demonstrated working navigation payloads.[8]

Phase Two: Satellite Manufacturing[edit]

On April 19, 2017, the US Air Force Space Command announced the start of the second phase of its acquisition strategy with the publication of a special notice for an "Industry Day" for companies planning on bidding for the contract to manufacture GPS III vehicles 11+.[7] During the Industry Day event, the Air Force shared the tentative acquisition strategy which it will use to evaluate proposals, then solicited feedback from potential bidders.

In July 2017, the Deputy Director of the U.S. Air Force GPS Directorate stated the acquisition strategy for GPS Block IIIF would be to award the manufacturing contracts for all 22 Block IIIF satellites to the same contractor.[9]

In November 2017, the Deputy Director of the US Air Force's GPS Directorate announced the name of the second tranche of GPS III satellites was "GPS Block IIIF."[10]

Also in November 2017, it was announced that development of the fully digital navigation payload for GPS Block IIIF satellites had completed.[11] The Block IIIA program schedule was delayed multiple times due to issues with the navigation payload.[12][13]


While the Air Force originally expected to publish the formal Request For Proposals (RFP) for GPS Block IIIF production in September 2017, it was not released until February 13, 2018.[3][14] The RFP was for a firm-fixed price (FFP) contract for a single company to manufacture all 22 space vehicles.[3]

All three participants from phase one (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman) were believed to be likely to submit proposals.[7]

The government held a pre-proposal conference in El Segundo, CA to be held on March 15, 2018 for potential bidders to ask the Air Force questions about the solicitation.[3]

The submission deadline for proposals was 12:00pm Pacific Daylight Time on April 16, 2018.[3]

The bid status of companies who participated in phase one, in alphabetical order:

  • Boeing: declined to submit a proposal[15]
  • Lockheed Martin: submitted a proposal[15]
  • Northrop: declined to submit a proposal[2]

Contract Award[edit]

On September 14, 2018, the Air Force awarded a $7.2 billion manufacturing contract to Lockheed Martin.[2]


Procurement funds for GPS Block IIIF satellite manufacturing will be allocated from the federal budget, starting with Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18).[16]

New characteristics[edit]

The Air Force has identified four "technology insertion points" for GPS Block IIIF.

These four points are the only four times during the block's lifecycle where new capabilities will be allowed to be introduced to Block IIIF satellites.

Technology Insertion Point 1 (estimated FY2026)[edit]

  • First Space Vehicle: GPS IIIF-01
  • Proposed/possible new functionality:
    • On Orbit Reprogrammable Digital Payload[17][18]
    • High Power Amplifiers (SSPA's)[18]
    • Regional Military Protection (RMP)[19]

Technology Insertion Point 2 (estimated FY2028)[edit]

  • First Space Vehicle: GPS IIIF-07
  • Proposed/possible new functionality:
    • M-Code Space Service Volume[20]

Technology Insertion Point 3 (estimated FY2030)[edit]

  • First Space Vehicle: GPS IIIF-13
  • Proposed/possible new functionality:
    • Near Real-Time Commanding
    • Advanced Clocks[18]

Technology Insertion Point 4 (estimated FY2033)[edit]

  • First Space Vehicle: GPS IIIF-19
  • Proposed/possible new functionality:
    • TBD


The 22 GPS Block IIIF satellites are scheduled for launch between FY2025 and FY2034.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "GPS-3F (Navstar-3F)". Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Lockheed Awarded $7.2 billion GPS IIIF Contract". Inside GNSS Media & Research LLC. September 15, 2018. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "18 – GPS IIIF Request For Proposal (RFP) Release". February 13, 2018. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Gleckel, Gerry (November 15, 2017). "GPS Status & Modernization Program" (PDF). U.S. Air Force. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center Awards Global Positioning System III Space Vehicles 11+ Phase 1 Production Readiness Feasibility Assessment Contracts". U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. May 5, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  6. ^ U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Public Affairs (January 8, 2016). "SMC releases RFP for GPS III Space Vehicles 11+ Phase 1 Production Readiness Feasibility Assessment". Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Divis, Dee Ann (April 27, 2017). "Door Open to New Bidders as Air Force Moves Closer to GPS III Buy". InsideGNSS. Gibbons Media & Research LLC. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  8. ^ Capaccio, Anthony (November 2, 2017). "Air Force Plans $10 Billion GPS III Contest Amid Lockheed Delays". Bloomberg. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  9. ^ Divis, Dee Ann (July 17, 2017). "GPS Official: Expect One Follow-on GPS III Contractor, Tech Insertion Points". Gibbons Media & Research LLC. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  10. ^ Divis, Dee Ann (November 22, 2017). "Next Tranche of GPS Satellites to be called GPS IIIFs". InsideGNSS. Gibbons Media & Research LLC. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  11. ^ "Harris Completes Development of Fully Digital Navigation Payload for Future GPS III Satellites". November 9, 2017. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  12. ^ GPS World Staff (February 11, 2014). "GPS III Payload Facing Delays". GPS World. North Coast Media LLC. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  13. ^ Gruss, Mike (September 14, 2016). "Lockheed Martin says first GPS 3 satellite delayed until December". Space News. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  14. ^ Divis, Dee Ann (January 16, 2018). "Industry Awaits GPS III RFP As Delays Mount". InsideGNSS. Gibbons Media & Research LLC. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Devis, Dee Ann (April 18, 2018). "Boeing Declines to Bid on GPS III". InsideGNSS. Gibbons Media & Research LLC. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  16. ^ Divis, Dee Ann (February 15, 2016). "GPS III Budget Slashed as Air Force Shifts Money to Fix Delayed OCX". InsideGNSS. Gibbons Media & Research LLC. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  17. ^ "On-Orbit Reprogrammable Digital Waveform Generator (ORDWG) for the GPS Spaceccraft Navigation Payload". US Air Force Research Lab. January 8, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  18. ^ a b c "Advanced GPS Technologies" (PDF). US Air Force Research Lab. May 1, 2015. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  19. ^ "Military GPS Receiver Advances Could Help Trim Satellite Costs" (PDF). InsideGNSS. June 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  20. ^ Bauer, Frank (June 11, 2015). "GPS Space Service Volume (SSV) Ensuring Consistent Utility Across GPS Design Builds for Space Users" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved November 10, 2018.