Casey Pushes for GPS Program to Support National Security and Jobs in Bucks County

NEWTOWN, PAU.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) toured Lockheed Martin Space Systems and met with employees to pledge continued support to protect jobs at the facility. In a letter sent today to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Casey pushed appropriators to support the Air Force Global Positioning Satellite III program, which is strongly supported by the U.S. Air Force and will help to retain approximately 300 jobs at the Newtown facility.

“There are few capabilities as important to our military and the U.S. economy as GPS,” wrote Senator Casey. “Given the strong track record of the GPS III program and the system’s importance to our military forces and the nation’s economic competitiveness, GPS III is a solid and wise investment in our military and the nation’s future.”

The GPS III contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin following a full and open competition in 2008, Senator Casey noted. However, the U.S. House of Representatives has proposed reducing funding for the program and adding unrequested funds to an older, less capable generation of the GPS system.

The aerospace engineers at Lockheed Martin in Newtown are among the most talented in the country, Senator Casey said, and he warned that not investing in new GPS technology will have negative impacts on the Armed Forces as well as the millions of Americans who benefit from GPS on a daily basis.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Inouye:

As the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee considers the fiscal year 2012 Defense Appropriations bill, I respectfully request that the Committee support the President’s Budget request for the Air Force Global Positioning Satellite III program (“GPS III”).  I also strongly urge the Committee to reject a proposal adopted in the House of Representatives to restart an older, less capable second generation GPS system.  

There are few capabilities as important to our military and the U.S. economy as GPS.  GPS has become part of the fundamental infrastructure of our Armed Forces and a basic technology used in American society.  Modern weapons systems, including precision strike munitions, rely on the exactitude that GPS technology provides.  Moreover, our ability to maneuver combat forces depends on the navigation and timing provided continuously by GPS satellites.  The civilian benefits of advances in GPS technology are also well documented.  Millions of Americans benefit from GPS on a daily basis, whether using modern communications that rely on GPS timing, flying in commercial or private aircraft, navigating on land and at sea, surveying and mapping, disaster assistance, farming, banking, and ground transportation.  As other nations begin operating similar navigation systems, it is essential to the military and civil community that these systems are interoperable in the manner that GPS III guarantees.  Further, as adversaries seek to counter GPS signals through jamming, the added signal power of GPS III will assure continued availability for our warfighters in any location around the world.

The GPS III contract was awarded following a full and open competition in 2008.  The program is now in production with a first launch scheduled in 2014.  The program is run by some of the nation’s most talented aerospace engineers in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  The GPS III program was specifically designed to restore acquisition credibility through strong systems engineering and schedule certain development aimed at avoiding delays and cost overruns typically found in other space programs.

Unfortunately, the House version of this bill would reduce funding for this model program, which is strongly supported by the U.S. Air Force and the user community.  Additionally, the House bill includes $40 million in unrequested funding to restart an older, less capable second generation GPS system.  I respectfully urge the Committee to reject the reductions in capability enhancements for GPS III proposed by the House.  I also strongly urge the Committee to reject the unrequested earmark of $40 million included in the House bill.  

I greatly appreciate the funding constraints that the Defense Subcommittee must work under in drafting a fiscal 2012 defense appropriations bill.  However, given the strong track record of the GPS III program, and the system’s importance to our military forces and the nation’s economic competitiveness, GPS III is a solid and wise investment in our military and the nation’s future.  Accordingly, I request that the Subcommittee support the President’s requests for the GPS III program included in both the Air Force Research, Development, Test and Evaluation budget and the Air Force Missile Procurement budget.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my views. 

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

 

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