The U.S. Air Force is exploring having companies compete against Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. for contracts to build the bulk of the country’s new generation of global positioning satellites amid worries about the first satellite that Jefferson County-based LMSS is building.
The aerospace company is trying to overcome technical issues with a subcontractor’s key part, which has delayed its debut GPS III satellite by several months and frustrated the Air Force.
LMSS’ existing contract for eight satellites isn’t believed to be in trouble, but at stake in the Air Force move are billions of dollars’ worth of future satellite construction and their associated jobs as the military updates its fleet of 32 orbiters that send information to military and civilian GPS receivers.
LMSS, a division of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), won a $1.5 billion, competitively bid contract from the Air Force in 2008 to develop a third-generation of GPS satellite that improves on the most recent ones put in orbit, which were built by the Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA).
LMSS’ existing contract covers making the first eight of the GPS III satellites, and it has grown by hundreds of millions of dollars in value. Dozens of jobs at LMSS are involved in GPS III, including at least 100 jobs tied to GPS III manufacturing at the Colorado headquarters campus.
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