January 26, 2016 – Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center and the 460th Space Wing announced the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate completion of the Space-Based Infrared System’s Block 10 Integrated Test and Evaluation (IT&E) Readiness Soak. This is the final Block 10 Increment 2 system test prior to the formal evaluation by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center.
Beginning January 5, 460th Operations Group personnel conducted the Soak event from the Mission Control Station at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. The 14-day test demonstrated total system readiness and stability for IT&E start. It included complete command and control (C2) and mission management of the full constellation, and full operational crew posture and execution of operations for the final dependability and maintainability assessment prior to IT&E. This event not only tested total system readiness, but also demonstrated that operational crews have enough confidence in the system to run live operations.
“For the first time, live mission messages were sent from the Block 10 floor,” said Col. Mike Guetlein, SMC’s Remote Sensing System director. “This is another huge step toward Operational Acceptance.”
“This is a full function test flight of our new ground system where our Airmen conduct full warning and detection functionality combined with intensive spacecraft command and control of all three of our spacecraft constellations,” added Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander. “This was our shakedown cruise.”
Block 10 consolidates operational C2 of Defense Support Program satellites, Space-based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting and Highly Elliptical Orbit sensors under one primary Mission Control Station. Block 10 also significantly increases performance capability across its four mission areas: missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence.
The Remote Sensing Program Office, in partnership with the operations community, leveraged lessons learned from previous SBIRS upgrades to successfully execute the Soak test. The system will now progress into IT&E and its formal operational and development evaluation activities.
Col. Mike Jackson, 460th SW Operations Group commander, said the completion of the phase marked a “truly historic day for the overhead persistent infrared mission.”
The SBIRS program is managed by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB in El Segundo, California. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, California, is the payload integrator. The 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB operates SBIRS.
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.