Long-overdue GPS ground stations delayed by pandemic, Chinese hardware – DNyuz

Long-overdue GPS ground stations delayed by pandemic, Chinese hardware

Raytheon Technologies’ long-troubled ground stations that will control the Pentagon’s constellation of GPS satellites won’t be ready till next year–seven years behind schedule.

The Space Force is replacing its current ground stations through a program called GPS Next Generation Operational Control Segment, or OCX. Back in 2016, when OCX was supposed to be ready, it was already being called the “most troubled program” in the Air Force. Now lawmakers are angry.

“OCX is nearly seven years late and not yet delivered. This is unacceptable and demands senior leader attention to ensure the program has the appropriate resources to complete OCX development and deliver the capability as soon as possible,” lawmakers wrote in the 2024 House defense appropriations bill.

Some of the delay stems from efforts to replace hardware whose manufacturer has been sold to China, Barbara Baker, deputy program executive officer for Space Systems Command’s Military Communications & Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, told Defense One.

The Pentagon determined that the program is at risk from Chinese hackers because IBM, the hardware provider for the product line of servers sold to Lenovo, an American corporation. In March 2020, the program modified the contract with Raytheon and chose HP to replace the IBM hardware.

“Primary drivers for the delay are COVID-19, addressing a hardware obsolescence baseline from the International Business Machines (IBM) baseline to Hewlett Packard (HP) and other technical delays,” Baker said.

The delay has financial implications for Raytheon, since the company is “not earning profit/fees associated with cost overruns,” Baker stated.

The Space Force currently operates 32 GPS satellites, including six of the planned 10 next-gen GPS III satellites. But some of the new satellites’ capabilities, including better jamming resistance, can only be used once OCX comes online.

The delay means the Space Force can’t fully use these satellites, Baker said.

“Although an initial ground capability to command and control the GPS IIIs was implemented in 2021, OCX delays prevent taking full advantage of all the GPS III military-code anti-jam power and additional signal monitoring,” Baker said.

The Pentagon now projects the ground control stations will be ready for operations in 2024, Baker said.

The cost for the ground control stations has grown from $4 billion to $7 billion, which is a 73 percent increase over the original estimate, according to a June Government Accountability Office report.

The ground stations breached the Nunn-McCurdy Act in 2016, meaning that the program had exceeded its costs by more than 25 percent.

” “Despite the Nunn McCurdy re-baseline, OCX still falls within budget estimates,” Baker stated.

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