CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Feb. 5 (UPI) -- United Launch Alliance launched the 12th and final satellite of the U.S. Air Force's GPS IIF-block, completing its first mission of 2016.
The satellite was launched using an Atlas V rocket as part of an effort to increase the Global Positioning System's accuracy and reach for both military and civilian users. The satellite is designed to enhance signal strength and navigational assistance for U.S. military operators.
"Congratulations to the ULA, Boeing and Air Force teams on the successful launch of GPS IIF-12," ULA Customs Services vice president Laura Maginnis said in a statement. "This system provides incredible capabilities to our women and men in uniform while enabling so many technologies that impact all of our daily lives."
The new satellite joining the Block IIF cluster uses updated avionics software and ground systems aiming to improve reliability and decrease costs.
The U.S. Air Force is currently operating 31 GPS satellites, and has plans to launch a new block of GPS III satellites. The next-generation satellites are designed to replace those already in orbit that have surpassed their operational design life. Lockheed Martin has been contracted to manufacture the GPS IIIA block.