[SatNews] The U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] a $1.86 billion fixed-price contract to complete the production of the fifth and sixth Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, known as GEO-5 and GEO-6, for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS).
SBIRS provides the U.S. with continuous, early warning of ballistic missile launches and other tactical intelligence. The Air Force awarded initial funding for the two satellites in a 2012 contract to complete non-recurring engineering activities and to procure select long lead parts. In 2013, the service awarded the advance procurement contract to secure additional long lead parts.
The SBIRS architecture includes a resilient mix of satellites in GEO, hosted payloads in Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO), and ground hardware and software. The GEO-1 and GEO-2 satellites received Air Force Space Command Operational Acceptance in 2013, and have performance that matches, and in some cases exceeds, requirements. On schedule for delivery at the end of 2014, GEO-3 currently is undergoing acoustic and thermal vacuum testing at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California satellite manufacturing facility. GEO-4 recently entered final assembly, integration and test.
The SBIRS program delivers timely, reliable and accurate missile warning and infrared surveillance information to the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, combatant commanders, the intelligence community and other key decision makers. The system enhances global missile launch detection capability, supports the nation's ballistic missile defense system, expands the country’s technical intelligence gathering capacity and bolsters situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.
“SBIRS provides capabilities critical to our nation’s defense but we also understand in today’s environment that we need to find that perfect balance between capability and affordability,” said Jeffrey Smith, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Overhead Persistent Infrared mission area. “This contract is the third part of a thoughtful acquisition strategy aimed at further reducing cost and cycle time for GEO-5 and GEO-6, while still providing exceptional data to the warfighter.”
The SBIRS team is led by the Infrared Space Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the SBIRS prime contractor, Northrop Grumman is the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system.
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