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​Air Force Space Command solicited industry proposals to build the next batch of next generation GPS III navigation satellites, Space and Missile Systems Center officials announced. "Industry told us they were ready to compete for the GPS III space vehicles. We listened and are looking forward to working with industry to assess the feasibility of a follow-on, competitive production contract," SMC's GPS Director Col. Steve Whitney said in a release. AFSPC plans to award a phase one contract for the 11th GPS III space vehicle and beyond by the third quarter of this fiscal year, according to SMC. Requirements stipulate the next tranche of satellites include provisions for several hosted payloads, such as a nuclear detonation detector, search and rescue system, and laser retro-reflector array, according to SMC. The satellites design must also be compatible with the same command and control system as existing advanced systems. The competitive, firm-fixed-price contract award will take into account bidder's capacity to undertake a second phase of production. The contract will cover a 26-month period, with two additional six-month options. The initial, next-generation GPS III satellites are already in production and the first is slated to launch in 2018.