The U.S. Air Force is investing to improve the Global Positioning System (GPS) used worldwide for military and civilian purposes.
Between Sept. 28 and Oct. 1, the Air Force announced four new GPS contracts.
Three were in the $30 million range, including contracts to Rockwell Collins and L-3 Communications to test and engineer new GPS technology, while Raytheon was awarded just under $30 million to develop receiver cards for GPS systems. Honeywell International also received a $14 million contract for engineering services related to GPS.
Maintained by the Air Force, the GPS is used in everything from civilian car navigation to targeting for military weapon systems. The only competition for the American GPS is the Russian GLONASS system, although the European Union is currently developing its own system, nicknamed Galileo.
The contracts were announced days before the Oct. 4 launch that put the first new GPS satellite of 2012 into orbit. That satellite, a Boeing-designed GPS IFF, improves on navigational accuracy, provides a more secure military signal and has a longer design life than older satellite models. It should deploy fully in about three months.