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Lockheed Saves Air Force $50 Million

By Rich Smith - Apr 10, 2013 at 6:32PM

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Tweaked design on new GPS satellites lets Lockheed launch 'em two at a time.

Lockheed Martin (LMT -0.34%) announced Wednesday that it has just completed a Delta Preliminary Design Review, or dPDR, for the U.S. Air Force's next generation Global Positioning System III satellite vehicles. That was the primary headline today -- but it was hardly the best news in Lockheed's announcement.

According to Lockheed, once GPS III is up and running, the 32 new GPS satellites will deliver three times better accuracy than current-gen GPS satellites, be eight times harder to jam from the ground, and be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems -- all while delivering a longer lifespan than the original system.

All of that, however, we knew before. What's new today is that Lockheed confirmed that after making design modifications as part of the just-announced dPDR, it will now be able to launch two GPS satellites at once, atop a single launch vehicle, thus saving the Air Force $50 million that it would otherwise have had to spend to buy a second booster rocket.

"From the beginning of the program," Lockheed said in a statement, it "has remained focused on affordability for GPS III."

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