Raytheon Interview: GPS OCX Program Status

February 16, 2011  - By 0 Comments
Don Jewell, our intrepid Defense editor, finally stopped traveling long enough to catch up with Robert “Bob” Canty, the Raytheon vice president and program manager for the GPS OCX program. They managed to find time for a very interesting and uplifting conversation concerning the history, current status, and way ahead for the next-generation GPS operational ground control segment. Uplifting because, incredibly, this critical space program is actually on schedule and on budget. Alert the media and roll the presses!


DJ (Don Jewell): Bob I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with GPS World and talk about OCX which is the future GPS Operational Ground Control Segment located at Schriever AFB in Colorado.

BC (Bob Canty): Don, I am always happy to talk about OCX. The program is doing extremely well and it is a good space story to tell.

DJ: Great, Bob. Now, historically, exactly how long has the Raytheon OCX team effort been in place? By that I am referring to the fact that Raytheon was required to prepare some amount of operational software for the last demo phase during the OCX competition, before contract award, that would supposedly be used at a later date. Are you making use of that software, and if you count that time during the competition phase, exactly how long have you or your team been working the OCX program?

BC: Don, what’s interesting is that we (Raytheon) were involved all the way back in the SARD (System Architecture and Requirements Definition) days, the early 2000s. I have personally been involved since the SARD days as well when we were supporting the Spectrum Astro and the Boeing teams. Then, after the SARD phase, the Spectrum Astro team joined the Lockheed Martin team, so then we were supporting Lockheed Martin (LMCO) and Boeing in that phase. When the space and control segment competitions were separated we had a PRDA (Program Research and Development Announcement) team, and consequently our team has been together since 2005. So our team has been around GPS a long time…when we came into the last phase, which was Phase A, of the program our team had a very mature design and a very mature approach. The Raytheon team was integrated and had many of the process steps behind us when we came into Phase A.

Essentially, we designed in Phase A the ability to be able to reuse that software in Phase B, so 97 percent of the software we developed in Phase A is being reused now in Phase B. Now, because of our reuse heritage, we have reuse from many different programs. We were able to incorporate that experience into Phase A and deliver a significant amount of code. Just from a DSLOC (Delivered Source Lines of Code) standpoint, on the order of 40 percent of the Block 1 code is completed and integrated together. When you look at equivalent source lines of code, or how much effort it took us to put that DSLOC together, it was about 75,000 lines of code. So when I take a look at all the code that AEP/LADO (Architecture Evolution Plan [current GPS ground control system]) has as delivered source lines of code, our final program will have less than half the lines of code than are currently in operations with the AEP/LADO program.

Now to get back to your original question about Raytheon’s longevity with the OCX program. In November 2007, Raytheon won a $160 million Phase A System Design and Risk Reduction contract. In February 2010, just 12 months ago, Raytheon was awarded a 73-month, $886 million contract for Blocks 1 and 2 of the GPS Advanced Control Segment (OCX). Raytheon has been working the next-generation GPS control system for more than 10 years. Now the Raytheon team, as such, has been in place since the PDRA phase so we have worked together for over five years. By establishing our technical approach and processes prior to Phase A, we were able to move very quickly into maturing our system design. This allowed us to develop software that is reusable in Phase B.

DJ: That’s great Bob, but why the smaller overall amount of code? Are you just utilizing a more modern and efficient software development language?

BC: Right, Don, it has to do with the overall efficiency of the code and the way it is architected and designed. There are many things we are doing with this particular code. Specifically we build functionality once and use it in many places in the architecture. By understanding the complete construct of what we have to deliver, we can get a tremendous amount of efficiency by the way we architect the overall SW and reuse pieces. We build once and deploy in several different places.

DJ: That sounds like very efficient code, Bob. What exactly is the primary software development language the Raytheon team is using?

BC: It is primarily C++ and Java.

DJ: So that must make it easier to follow sequences and find errors and problems in the code.

BC: It does, and from an integration standpoint, the overall modularity approach of a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), facilitates integration. An SOA done right, and they aren’t all designed correctly, partitions code into much smaller modules with standard interfaces that makes it easier to integrate and test. Plus, in older architectures, you had to integrate all the code together before you could find problems among modules. In today’s OCX architecture you can really isolate problems down to different layers in the architecture, which also makes it much simpler to integrate and test.

DJ: It certainly sounds like OCX software will be easier to maintain. And I think you mentioned to me before that there will be no reuse of the AEP software in the OCX code.

BC: Right. We have no AEP code in our architecture at all. We are, however, reusing some parts of the LADO (Launch and Early Orbit, Anomaly Resolution, and Disposal Operations) software. Some of the software code that Braxton has, especially for modeling and simulation — and I will talk more about that in a minute — is being validated in our modeling and simulation framework. We are bringing all that reuse of Braxton software into our overall offering.

Essentially, Don, the entire OCX architecture was designed to easily evolve to accommodate new functionally, automation and changes in the mission CONOPS (Concept of Operations). It is also a very efficient design. Our design will use less than half the lines of code as AEP/LADO with twice the capability. As I said, we purposely did not reuse any AEP software. We have taken advantage of Braxton’s validated LADO IIR, IIR-M, and IIF models. Raytheon is also taking advantage of our Eclipse Command and Control and Equinox Mission Management product suites. ITT reuses designs from its GPS IIR, GPS IIR-M, and GPS IIIA , and Raytheon’s NCS (Network Centric Systems) brings reuse from the FAA’s (Federal Aviation Administration) Wide-Area Augmentation System better known as WAAS.

DJ: I guess that makes sense, and it’s obviously more economical for cost and schedule to automate and reuse software where you can. And since you mentioned LADO, many of the 2SOPS (2nd Space Operations Squadron) operators tell me that they prefer to use the Braxton LADO system and software because so much of it is automated. It does away with human interpretation and is less prone to fat fingering errors, especially during times of high-operations tempo on the operations floor at Schriever AFB.

BC: Absolutely. In our system going forward, we are bringing more automation into play. As you start bringing in NAVWAR (Navigation Warfare) in Block II, the overall goal is to have the same or a fewer number of operators than are on the GPS operatio
ns floor today. We are essentially doubling the operational capacity with the same or a fewer number of people. We are introducing much more automation into OCX program, more even than the Braxton LADO program has today.

DJ: We’ve talked a lot about software and procedures, but is the OCX program also about hardware?


BC: You’re right, Don. Although the GPS OCX contract is primarily a software development effort, there is a significant amount of hardware. Approximately 20 percent of the effort is hardware. In addition to the computer equipment that will support operations at the primary and alternate Master Control Stations (AMCS), we will be installing new GPS receivers in 17 globally distributed monitoring stations to monitor all GPS signals, and upgrading the ground antennas at all four legacy ground antenna (GA) locations. Most of it is COTS (commercial off the shelf) hardware, the only exception being the receivers that we put in the monitoring stations. They are custom built receivers in order to get the performance we are looking for. Since we are incorporating the M-Code (military-only code) capability into the receivers, we are required to go through an intensive information assurance (IA) accreditation process. So that is really the only custom piece of hardware out there as far as OCX is concerned.

DJ: Does that mean that you are going to have to certify all new hardware to prove that it will operate with OCX?

BC: Actually, no, there are only two segments of the hardware program that are going to have to be certified, and that is the GPS monitors/receivers and the key management system.

DJ: Key management… Does that mean that you are currently working the SAASM (Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module) OTAR (over the air re-keying) and OTAD (over-the-air delivery) piece of the GPS control system as well within the OCX program?

BC: Correct.

DJ: And now the question that everyone wants answered; is the OCX program still on schedule? Will it be delivered on time?

BC: We are on schedule and on cost. Since contract award in February 2010, we have successfully completed our Technical Baseline Review, Integrated Baseline Review, Software Specification Review, and Hardware Preliminary Design Review. We are on track for a successful system PDR in the second quarter of calendar year 2011 (2Q11). We just completed software iteration version 1.2 integration and test. We have started software iteration version 1.3 design activities so we are right on schedule. As I mentioned before, since we had a lot of code reuse coming out of Phase A, we were able to incorporate 97% of it into our iteration version 1.2 of the software baseline. We will progress all the way to version 1.7 in our software iterations for Block 1, so essentially we are currently a little less than a third of the way through our software development activity. We completed iteration 1.2 right on the day it was scheduled in our original operational baseline schedule. Starting this week we are beginning our iterative software design for iteration version 1.3 and that is scheduled to complete in the fall of 2011. So, yes, right now on the software development side we are right on schedule.

DJ: Bob, anyone familiar with the OCX and GPS IIIA programs has heard about a supposed gap or lack of synchronization between the two programs. Is there still a gap between the OCX FOC (full operational capability) date and the proposed launch date for the first GPS IIIA satellite? If so, how large is that gap and is it getting bigger or smaller?

BC: Don, the first GPS IIIA satellite is currently scheduled to launch in May 2014, and the OCX Block 1.0 Ready To Operate (RTO) date is August 2015. Over the past six months, we have worked closely with the GPS Directorate and GPS IIIA contractor Lockheed Martin (LMCO) to align our schedules and ensure OCX is ready to support the first IIIA launch. This has required the introduction of a streamlined Launch and Checkout System (LCS) designed to:

  • Reduce schedule risk for OCX Block 1.0 RTO through early completion of GPS IIIA integration, test, exercises, and rehearsals.
  • Provide earliest GPS IIIA-1 operational availability.
  • Provide opportunity for discovery of potential IIIA-1 design issues.

LCS will provide Block 1.0 Initial Checkout Capability in April 2013, On-Orbit Checkout Capability (spacecraft only) in March 2014, and Full Checkout Capability (spacecraft and navigation payload) in March 2015 (in time for the scheduled IIIA-2 launch). With LCS we have essentially closed the gap between GPS IIIA launch and OCX Block 1.0 delivery.

DJ: Great. You have theoretically closed the gap as long as LCS comes to fruition. Barring that, if required, could LADO launch the first GPS IIIA satellite?

BC: The LADO system does not currently support the IIIA vehicle and, ultimately, it is not about launching GPS IIIA as much as it is about bringing it into operations. OCX is the only system that can bring GPS IIIA into operations. Raytheon feels the current LCS approach significantly reduces the operational risk to GPS IIIA.

DJ: Now, Bob, as we mentioned earlier Raytheon has put together a team. You are not doing this alone, so please remind us of who your initial teammates were and are they all still on board? Have any new teammates been added and what does each teammate specialize in as far as OCX support is concerned?

BC: Actually, we maintain the same team today with which we started the OCX contract. Raytheon‘s teammates include Boeing, ITT Corporation, Braxton Technologies, Infinity Systems Engineering, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Details on each partner and its role in the GPS OCX program are as follows:

Click to enlarge.


DJ: Is the Raytheon team going to design a new Kalman filter for OCX? [Editor: for those who aren’t aware, a Kalman filter is not a hardware device but rather a set of sophisticated processing algorithms.] And if so, how do you envision the transition process progressing? Is this an area of special concern? And would Raytheon build the Kalman filter or would it be one of your teammates? If so, which one and why?


BC:I think you just asked me six rapid-fire questions about the Kalman filter.Yes, we are designing new Kalman filter algorithms for OCX. Our Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) teammate, with extensive experience in this area, is responsible for developing the Kalman filter algorithms and ITT Space Systems is integrating the algorithms into the OCX navigation solution. Based on past experience, we are developing a very robust and flexible transition plan in which the Kalman filter can be operated in parallel and switched in and out even after long periods of operations. We believe this will facilitate a smooth transition from the current GPS AEP OCS to OCX.

: Bob, if you don’t mind, I would like to go back to the gap issue for just a moment, just to make sure there are no misunderstandings. According to LMCO, the GPS IIIA program is continuing to move to the left, so much so that the first IIIA launch might take place before the last IIF launch. Will this cause OCX any special problems?

BC: Don, as stated before, the first GPS IIIA launch is scheduled for May 2
014 and we do not anticipate any schedule problems.

DJ: That’s great. Not to beat a dead horse, but that is a question we get a lot at GPS World, and I just wanted to make sure we had it covered. Now to move on, have there been any major surprises in the program so far, good or bad?

BC: I have been very pleased with the collaboration efforts among the GP (GPS Directorate), SE&I (Systems Engineering and Integration), GPS IIIA, and OCX contractors. The cooperation, data sharing, and teaming are outstanding. Bringing in a diversity of views and solutions is really enhancing the program.

DJ: Bob, is there a particular aspect of the OCX program of which you as the PM (program manager) are particularly proud?

BC: There is. As identified earlier, we are proud to be on schedule and on cost. We have an outstanding team that is executing to meet the customer’s needs. The strong relationship we have built with our teammates, with Lockheed Martin, the GPS IIIA contractor, and our SMC customer has been vital to the success of the program to date. In addition, we believe the ability to design a solution that leverages significant software reuse has proven invaluable to reducing cost, schedule, and technical risk on the program.

DJ: Sounds like the A-Team motto, “I love it when a plan comes together.” But what about the future, the way ahead for OCX? Is the government continuing to add requirements as you go along?

As you know many PMs have seen their well-planned programs fail because of continuous government change requests.

BC: Actually, Don, the requirements have been very stable on Block 1 and 2 for OCX. As for the future of OCX, the net-centric features that will be enabled by OCX will revolutionize future GPS services. We anticipate new capabilities such as:

  • Net-centric GPS user equipment will enable delivery of future GPS OCX net-centric services (e.g., situational awareness, augmentation, differential GPS) directly to end-users.
  • Net-centric user equipment and the future ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) sensor “cloud” will close the loop for GPS forward monitoring for assured delivery of PNT services and for identifying, locating and reporting sources of interference.
  • Collaborative, effects-based decision support tools and ad hoc planning coupled with an integrated space/ground network will tighten the NAVWAR and integrity timeline.
  • Combined planning of space, air, and ground-based L-band augmentation assets for assured PNT (position, navigation and timing).
  • Secure, cross-domain collaboration and GPS mission situational awareness will provide efficient user help-desk services and automation for constellation management.
  • Standards-based developer’s toolkits will speed delivery of new capabilities to users and ensure future interoperability.

DJ: OK, Bob, OCX may be flashy, new, on schedule and on budget as well as being projected to be more efficient. But as the PM what do you consider to be the most impressive or critical new capabilities that OCX brings to the GPS control system and to the warfighters?

BC: GPS OCX consolidates all ground system operations into a single, flexible, service-oriented architecture (SOA) solution that meets the needs of both legacy and future satellites. GPS OCX offers the capability to optimize across all elements of the space segment and provides net-centric interfaces and services to improve civil and commercial capabilities and enhance warfighter effectiveness well into the future.

GPS OCX will act as a service bridge between space and user segments, enabling a more innovative, user-centric system including:
Improved availability of signals from space

  • Increased accuracy of data
  • Flexible modern software that is easier to maintain and modernize
  • Timely clock and calendar updates
  • Enhanced anti-jam and interference performance
  • Increased capacity for satellite support
  • Increased Situational Awareness for GPS operators
  • Syncs with current satellites and future satellites
  • Performance continuity with existing GPS devices.

GPS OCX will revolutionize command and control (C2) and mission capabilities for U.S. armed forces and our allies, transforming the focus of GPS operations from satellite C2, to user-oriented, effects-based operations. The program will increase operational efficiency by supporting network-centric capabilities, navigation warfare, and effects-based operations (EBO), while providing the war fighter secure, actionable and predictive information to enhance situational awareness, real-time decision-making, and responsiveness.

DJ: Bob, what can you tell us about the new Raytheon GPS collaboration facility that is scheduled to open sometime this month in El Segundo, California? What part will that facility and its capabilities play, if any, in the OCX process going forward?

BC: Don, bringing new GPS capability on-line is directly related to when the control segment (OCX) can transition the capability to everyday operations. We recognize that close collaboration is necessary for enterprise success. The GPS Collaboration Center will be used for OCX development and deployment in addition to demonstrating future GPS capabilities from across the Raytheon Corporation and the OCX team.

DJ: Well Bob I’m certainly impressed and I want to thank you once again for your time today. This is an impressive story. There aren’t many space programs today that are on their cost and schedule budget or anywhere near it for that matter. That in itself is an amazing achievement. Any closing comments or important questions we forgot?

BC: Don, I appreciate the opportunity to talk about the OCX program and in closing I want to say that GPS OCX, the next-generation operational gateway service, is designed to provide secure, accurate, and reliable navigation and timing information to effectively support military, commercial, and civil users. GPS OCX will act as the service integrator for ground, space, and user segments to enhance mission command and control, and situational awareness capabilities, while seamlessly supporting millions of users around the world.

Raytheon IIS brings more than four decades of high-availability, precision-based, and command and control systems experience to GPS OCX. In addition, Raytheon IIS understands the need to move from a platform-centric to a user-centric system, and is able to deliver capability upgrades in an asynchronous environment and support the government’s desire to operate as a systems integrator. As the prime contractor for the GPS OCX program, Raytheon will continue to ensure that the solution is delivered on time, and on budget.

This article is tagged with and posted in Defense, Defense PNT Newsletter, Newsletter Editorials, Opinions, Uncategorized
Don Jewell

About the Author:

Don Jewell served 30 years in the United States Air Force, as an aviator and a space subject-matter expert. Don’s involvement with GPS and other critical space systems began with their inception, either as a test system evaluator or user. He served two command assignments at Schriever AFB, the home of GPS, and retired as Deputy Chief Scientist for Air Force Space Command. Don also served as a Politico Military Affairs Officer during the Reagan administration, working with 32 foreign embassies and serving as a Foreign Disclosure Officer making critical export control decisions concerning sophisticated military hardware and software. After retiring from the USAF, Don served seven years as the senior space marketer and subject-matter expert for two of the largest government contractors dealing in space software and hardware. Don currently serves on two independent GPS review teams he helped found, and on three independent assessment teams at the Institute for Defense Analyses, dealing with critical issues for the U.S. government. Don has served on numerous Air Force and Defense Scientific Advisory Boards. He writes and speaks extensively on technical issues concerning the U.S. government. Don earned his Bachelor’s degree and MBA; the Ph.D. is in progress.

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