16 août 2018 | International, C4ISR

Sprint toward new missile-warning satellites begins with first contract award to Lockheed

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force is racing to kick-start its new accelerated program to buy next-generation missile warning satellites, awarding a contract on Aug. 14 to Lockheed Martin for the first three satellites in the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program.

The award, which has a value of up to $2.9 billion, will allow Lockheed to do the design work, flight hardware procurement, early manufacturing and risk-reduction work necessary for a critical design review, the service said in a statement. Lockheed is set to provide the three geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites in the Next-Gen OPIR constellation.

"As we develop these new systems, speed matters," Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a statement. "We are focused on providing a missile warning capability survivable in a contested environment by the mid-2020s."

More specifically, the Air Force has said it plans to launch its first Next Gen OPIR satellite in 2023, two years earlier than its original plan to begin fielding the replacement for the Space Based Infrared System, or SBIRS, which called for first launches in 2025.

Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, was one of the biggest critics of the Air Force’s original procurement strategy for a next generation SBIRS. In December, he called the service’s plan to field the new constellation by fiscal 2029 “ridiculous” and said it could be done faster.

Full article: https://www.defensenews.com/space/2018/08/15/sprint-towards-new-missile-warning-satellites-begins-with-first-contract-award-to-lockheed

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