BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (Reuters) - U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work on Tuesday said he was still not confident about completion of a long-delayed, over-budget ground-based system being developed by Raytheon Co to control new GPS satellites built by Lockheed Martin Corp.
“Before I say I’m confident that we’ve turned the corner, I’m going to have to see more data,” Work told reporters aboard a military aircraft en route to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado. “We’ve got to have improved performance on the side of Raytheon.”
Work said Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall and top Air Force officials had decided to continue the troubled program “for the time being” given how critical it was and were working closely with Raytheon to get the program back on track.
Work spoke with reporters as Raytheon reported that it had completed the first formal qualification test of the initial capability of the initial OCX system, which will provide launch and early orbit checkout capabilities.
Bill Sullivan, OCX manager for Raytheon, said the test validated the maturity of the OCX launch and checkout system and increased confidence in the program’s path ahead.
The Pentagon last month said the estimated cost of Raytheon’s Operational Control System (OCX) rose 16.3 percent, or $586.4 million, to $4.2 billion in 2015 - even before a two-year delay decision that will inflate costs further.
The Air Force is still assessing how much the delay will add to the cost of a program dubbed the Air Force’s “No. 1 troubled program” by a top general in February.
Projected costs have soared 180 percent due to tough cyber requirements and poor contractor performance from the initial estimate of $1.5 billion when Raytheon won the contract in 2010.
U.S. military officials have thus far stopped short of canceling the OCX program, citing the importance of the system at a time when China, Russia, Iran and other countries are aggressively attacking U.S. military systems such as GPS.
OCX will be the first satellite control system designed after the advent of significant jamming and other cyber threats.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Alan Crosby