The new satellite system will superseded the Space Based Infrared System by providing improved missile warning capabilities which can be more survivable and resilient against emerging threats.
The payload from the next generation U.S. Air Force’s missile warning satellite system will be put together by the winner of the competition that puts two defense industry giants against one another.
Raytheon along with a team from Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace will compete to produce the mission payload for the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) Geo Synchronous (GEO) Block 0 missile warning system, as outlined by an Oct. 4 release from Lockheed Martin.
The Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $2.9 billion contract in August to build three-geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites. Lockheed Martin then selected the two teams as potential sub-contractors on Sep. 28, about 45 days as soon as the original contract was rewarded.
“The Raytheon and Northrop Grumman/Ball Aerospace teams were selected due to their capacity to meet stringent schedule and capability requirements,” according to the Lockheed Martin release.
The two teams are tasked with developing detailed mission payload designs and can compete their solutions for potential use for the Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO system. These mission payloads contain advanced sensors that meet national security satellite requirements and so are utilized to help detect missile launches around the world.
The procurement of the Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO system offers phone Air Force’s intends to achieve space supremacy by way of a group of rapid procurement programs, or as the Air Force dubbed it, “Go Fast” acquisition. Air Force officials state targeting the first GEO satellite delivery in 60 months.
“As we develop these new systems, speed matters,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “The next generation missile warning satellite will likely be a pace-setter.”
The Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO system will track the current Space Based Infrared System. Lockheed Martin was the top contractor on SBIRS with Northrop Grumman because the major subcontractor for the payload. The program took nearly 15 years from the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology initial approval of the program to the launch of the first satellite next year.
Lockheed Martin expects to choose successful inside payload competition in 2020, with all the Air Force gps unit perfect first Next-Gen OPIR launch in 2023.