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Tue, Feb 27, 2007

Air Force Satellite Contract Up For Grabs

Lockheed Martin and Boeing Competing

The Air Force says it needs 32 new global positioning satellites, to replace 24 of its currently orbiting satellites. The Pentagon will seek bids for the first phase of the tri-phased multi-billion dollar project in March, according to Candrea Thomas, spokeswoman for the Air Force's Los Angeles-based Space and Missile Systems Center.

The new satellites are intended for implementation of a new system, Global Positioning III, which is intended to improve navigation by air, land and sea. GPS III will also be more difficult to disable.

The Associated Press reports Boeing and Lockheed Martin will hotly contend for the contract and attempt to ensure that whoever is chosen for phase one will also lead the second and third phases of the contract. Both companies currently supply the Air Force with satellites.

Lockheed and Boeing have already received roughly $85 million from the Air Force for initial planning and development for the first phase of the contract, according to Maj. Regina Winchester, a Pentagon-based spokeswoman for the Air Force.

The first phase of the three-phase contract will be for eight satellites to be delivered by 2013, the second phase, for eight satellites by 2016 and the third phase, an additional 16 satellites by 2019, according to the Air Force. The total cost for this project has yet to be determined.

According to the AP, roughly $4.26 billion has been designated to GPS III research and development funding, excluding procurement funding, based on the Bush administration's fiscal years 2008-2013 proposed budget.

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.lockheedmartin.com

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