GPS Block IIIF
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: GPS IIIF
Origin: United States of America
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Description: The GPS satellites developed under the NAVSTAR program allows any properly equipped user to determine precise time, velocity and worldwide latitude, longitude and altitude to within a few meters. Originally was designed to be an accurate guidance and navigation tool for the military services but it has been adopted by civil and commercial customers for transportation, surveying and rescue operations. The first GPS Block I spacecraft was put into orbit on February 22, 1978. In the past, the GPS constellation spacecrafts fluctuated from 2-18 to 21 but currently the GPS constellation owned by the United States Air Force consists of 27 satellites (24+3 spares). As of 2004, the US Air Force GPS constellation consists of six planes, each one containing at least four satellites operating 24/7. Redundant satellites are being launched as spares to counterbalance attrition. The GPS is transitioning into the 2020s and the 2030s with the GPS Block III and Block IIIF satellites.
The US Air Force GPS Block III Follow On (GPS IIIF) is a new series of 22 satellites being procured by the United States to support both civil and military positioning services worldwide. The GPS IIIF is expected to deliver enhanced capabilities compared with the GPS III spacecraft. The first GPS IIIF spacecraft is expected to be put into orbit in the 2025-2030 timeframe.
The GPS IIIF will feature a Regional Military Protection capability with increased anti-jam support, a fully digital navigation payload, a laser retro-refractor array to define the satellite position with laser precision, and an additional search and rescue (SAR) payload. So far Lockheed Martin is one the competing bidders for the GPS IIIF constellation.
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