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Raytheon to replace computer hardware on new GPS ground system

Photo: Raytheon

Photo: Raytheon

The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s GPS Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) program on March 26 instructed Raytheon to replace the computer hardware in OCX prior to system delivery.

The IBM computer product line used in the system was sold to a Chinese company, Lenovo, in August 2014. At the time of the sale, the U.S. government identified this as a major impact to OCX by creating an unacceptable cyber risk. However, the government waited implement a fix until Raytheon showed promising program performance in delivering OCX.

“Over the last two and a half years, since OCX came out of its Nunn-McCurdy breach, Raytheon has been executing as planned, giving us confidence in OCX’s ability to transition into operations,” said Lt. Gen. John Thompson, SMC commander.

Software development was completed in the fall of 2019, and the program is in the integration and test phase. Within a year, Raytheon is expected to deliver a qualified software baseline capable of operating the GPS constellation, Thompson said.

Until OCX is deployed, GPS will be operated using the Contingency Operations, or COps, supplied by Lockheed Martin.

HPE chosen as hardware vendor

In 2017, the federal government sponsored a hardware trade study with U.S.-based vendors to replace IBM’s hardware. As a result of the study, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) was selected as the vendor. The program then conducted a pilot project replacing the IBM hardware in the 17 external monitoring stations and four ground antenna sites, resulting in successful HPE replacement.

“This gave us confidence that we had a viable OCX technical solution providing a long term sustainable hardware baseline that meets our stringent cyber security requirements,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Gabriele, SMC’s OCX materiel leader. “As Raytheon continues to track to their contractual commitments, addressing the unsupportable IBM cyber security risk is prudent to do pre-system delivery to the government.

“Although this government-directed change will impact the Raytheon schedule, the government is holding Raytheon accountable to deliver qualified software prior to integrating on the HPE platform and deploying to operational sites,” Gabriele said.

“By executing the fix now we eliminate $150 million in rework and retesting, and ensuring we deliver a system that is capable of transitioning to operations,” said Barbara Baker, SMC Command and Control Division’s senior materiel leader.

Decades-old hardware

Another benefit of the $378 million government-directed contract change is the opportunity to replace the now decade-old IBM hardware. This will improve system performance and increase the OCX program supportability posture.

“OCX is critical to continuing high priority national efforts to modernize GPS with new military and civil positioning capabilities, including enhanced security, precision, reliability, and integrity. OCX will deliver sustained, reliable GPS capabilities to America’s warfighters, allies, and civil users,” Baker said.

The OCX program is part of the GPS Enterprise Modernization. OCX will deliver two times more satellite capacity, modern cyber-secure infrastructure, improved accuracy, globally deployed modernized receivers with anti-jam capabilities, and improved availability in difficult terrain.

“As a high interest program, we will continue to work with our industry partners to deliver a global GPS capability, Gabriele said.

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