| COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado May 21 A top U.S.
Air Force general on Wednesday said she was disappointed about
delays on the first Global Positioning System III satellite
being built by Lockheed Martin Corp, but believed the
company is taking steps to meet its commitments.
Lieutenant General Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of the Air
Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, said Lockheed was
exploring a range of options for the program, including
replacing Exelis Inc, the subcontractor that has run
into trouble with the satellite's navigation payload.
"They know we are not happy, that we are disappointed at the
delays we have seen and the technical issues that their
subcontractor has had," Pawlikowski told reporters at the annual
space conference hosted by the Space Foundation.
"They are considering whether an alternative source might
provide them a better opportunity to meet their contractual
commitments to us," she said, noting that Lockheed could also
opt to replace only certain components, or build them itself.
Pawlikowski, who has been nominated to be the Air Force's
top military acquisition executive, said she was in close touch
with Lockheed about the program, and felt confident that it was
"doing the right things" to address the delays.
Lockheed is under contract to build eight GPS satellites for
the Air Force to replace aging GPS satellites in orbit. The new
GPS III satellites will provide three times greater accuracy and
en eightfold increase in anti-jamming capabilities.
Lockheed said Exelis had made good progress on the troubled
navigation payload, and all of the components on the system had
passed unit acceptance and environmental tests, except the
mission data unit, which was now in thermal vacuum testing.
Exelis is now due to deliver the complete navigation payload
to Lockheed this autumn, said Lockheed spokesman Matt Kramer.
He said each key component and subsystem on the satellite
had to pass rigorous testing before it could be integrated on
Kramer said the company issued a request for information to
industry in the fourth quarter of 2013 to see what new
technologies were available for next-generation payloads.
"This is an action we take on many of our programs and the
kind of practice a responsible prime contractor undertakes to
keep up with the latest technologies and innovations on the
market," Kramer said. He declined to share details about the
responses the company received, calling that data proprietary.
A spokesman for Exelis said the company had made
"tremendous" progress on the navigation payload in recent
months, but declined to comment beyond the statement issued by
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Richard Borsuk)