Pentagon keeping eye on Raytheon program delay


The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer is keeping close tabs on the ground control system being developed by Raytheon Co to operate current and future Global Positioning System satellites.

The company says the system may be up to six months behind schedule.

Frank Kendall, defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, and other top defense officials raised concerns about delays in the Raytheon program during an annual review of the entire GPS system on April 10.

After that meeting, Kendall said he wanted to review progress on Raytheon’s Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) for the GPS satellites again this summer, said Major General John Hyten, the Air Force’s top space acquisition official, Reuters reports.
“Mr. Kendall wants to make sure he watches it closely enough so that … if there are problems, he can weigh in at his level immediately,” Hyten told Reuters in an interview at a space conference here.

Raytheon won a contract valued at $2.6 billion in February 2010 to develop the ground system that will operate the new GPS III satellites, being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp for launch beginning in a few years, and the 30 satellites already in orbit.

Current internal Raytheon plans project a six-month delay in delivery of the first version of the ground station software, which had initially been slated for August 2015, but company officials say they are trying to narrow that gap.

The U.S. military is upgrading the capabilities of the GPS satellites a nd the ground system that operates them to improve their targeting and positioning capabilities, but also, importantly, to beef up their security against cyber attacks.

Hyten said Raytheon faced a significant challenge but there was “absolutely no possibility” that the company would be removed from the program.

He said Raytheon had replaced its management on the multibillion-dollar program and was working hard to accelerate it and develop the complex software needed for “information assurance” – protecting existing and future satellites against cyber attacks.

Hyten said the Air Force was partly responsible for the delays since it had been late in signing a contract for the program with Raytheon.

The Air Force also signed a contract with Raytheon in December for an initial version of the software that would allow launch and te sting of the first GPS III satellite, but would not allow use of the signals that the new satellites are being built to transmit, Hyten said.

A congressional report last month said the interim launch control system would not enable the new capabilities offered by the satellites, including a jam-resistant military signal and three new civil signals.

The current Raytheon plan calls for the company to deliver the launch and testing capability in February 2014, in time for a May 2014 launch of the first new GPS III satellite.

The congressional Government Accountability Office said any Raytheon delay would delay the launch of the first GPS III satellite.

Steve Moran, director of GPS mission solutions for Raytheon, said the company was working “hand in glove” with the government and Lockheed to accelerate work on the program. He said it was delayed by the government’s addition of new requirements.
“We’ve had some problems, but we’re working to correct them,” Moran told Reuters at a space conference here.

The GAO last month released a report that cited progress on U.S. military space programs after a decade of cost overruns and schedule delays, but said some spacecraft, including the GPS III satellites, still faced rising costs.

The report cited 18 percent cost overrun on development and production of the first two GPS III satellites being built by Lockheed, driving their cost up to $1.6 billion.

The Air Force this week said Lockheed had lost $70 million in incentive fees to help cover the cost increase. Additional fees are still available for Lockheed to earn.

The GAO also raised concerns about a disconnect between development of new satellites and the ground systems that operate them. It said the Pentagon was unable to use data from one of two sensors on the first new missile warning satellites in real time because the ground segment software to process that data will not be ready until 2018.