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GPS III space vehicles will introduce new capabilities to meet higher demands of both military and civilian users. It brings the full capability to use M-Code in support of warfighter operations. GPS III nominal M-Code capability exceeds maximum GPS IIF/IIR M-Code capability (Flex power without P(Y) code). It expands international cooperation in the Global Navigation Satellite System GNSS arena by fielding the L1C signal interoperable with Galileo, Quazi-Zenith Satellite System and other GNSS systems.
GPS III is needed to complete the deployment of L2C and L5 signal capabilities that began with the modernized GPS IIR-M and GPS IIF satellites. Using an incremental approach, new capabilities that require technical maturity or have greater risks of being properly integrated are deferred to the later increments, ensuring low risk and high confidence delivery of capabilities.
In May 2008, the first GPS III increment contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin for the development and production of two initial space vehicles, with options for up to ten additional space vehicles.