Lockheed Martin has won a $US1.46bn US Air Force contract to build next-generation global-positioning satellites.

The contract is for the first two of the initial constellation of eight orbiting spacecraft, designated GPS-IIIA, which will begin replacing GPS-II satellites in 2014.

GPS IIIA satellites will be far more accurate, powerful and resistant to jamming than the earlier generation, air force officials say.

The initial contract will see Lockheed design and build two satellites, the first of which is scheduled for launch in 2014.

The air force will have the option to purchase ten more satellites, raising the potential value of the contract to more than US$3.5bn.

The air force plans to eventually have 32 satellites built and will acquire them in batches.

By staff writer