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US Air Force GPS Control System 4 Years Overdue, $1.1Bln Over Budget

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A new report by GAO reveals that the US Air Force faces growing and costly problems with its new GPS next generation operational control system.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Air Force faces growing and costly problems with its new Global Positioning System (GPS) next generation operational control system (OCX) and consistently overstated progress on it, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report.

"The Air Force has experienced significant difficulties developing the …OCX," the report, issued on Wednesday, said. "It needs $1.1 billion and four years more than planned to deliver OCX due to poor acquisition decisions and a slow recognition of development problems."

The US Air Force began developing the OCX in 2010, the GAO pointed out, without completing reviews for the detailed implementation of the program.

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Subsequently, the US Air Force accelerated work on the program in 2012 to meet optimistic GPS III satellite launch timeframes. However, this proved to be unrealistic and development problems and costs grew, the report noted.

In 2015, "OCX cost and schedule growth have persisted due in part to a high defect rate, which may result from systemic issues," the report added. "Further, unrealistic cost and schedule estimates limit OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] visibility into and oversight over OCX progress."

While OCX problems have mounted, the older GPS satellites and programs have proved to be more long-lasting and successful than had been anticipated, the GAO noted.

"The current GPS constellation has proven to be much more reliable than the Air Force predicted when GAO last reported on it in 2010," the report said.

The OCX will not be fully available to the US Air Force until mid-2019 at the earliest and full capability is likely at least a decade away, according to the GAO.

The satellite-based GPS provides positioning, navigation and timing data to users worldwide. The Air Force is modernizing the satellite, ground control and user equipment segments to enhance GPS performance.

The US Government Accountability Office is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress and investigates how the federal government spends the taxpayers’ money.

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