Air Force’s Early Warning Satellites Get No-Cost Update from Lockheed Martin

Photo of SBIRS. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

Photo of SBIRS. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

June 9, 2015 – The U.S. Air Force’s newest infrared surveillance and missile warning satellites will be based on Lockheed Martin’s modernized A2100 spacecraft, an update that improves system affordability and resiliency while also adding the flexibility to use future payloads. The fifth and sixth Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites will receive this advanced spacecraft technology at no additional cost to the existing fixed-price contract.

The SBIRS program is responsible for America’s early missile warning and infrared surveillance missions, which are crucial to global security.

“This is a significant event in the history of the SBIRS system,” said Col.Mike Guetlein, the Remote Sensing System Directorate’s program director. “It brings the next generation of remote sensing satellites into the 21st century by partnering with industry to leverage their expertise and resources all while simultaneously delivering more capability to the warfighter. Additionally, the modernized satellite provides a pathway for implementing the next-generation of capabilities being pursued under the Air Force’s Space Modernization Initiative.”

In response to the Department of Defense’s need for more affordable and resilient systems, the Air Force and Lockheed Martin worked to add the A2100 bus update to the 2014 SBIRS block-buy contract, which already saved the Air Force more than $1 billion. The modernized A2100 adds further affordability by using common components, streamlined manufacturing and has a flexible design that reduces the cost to incorporate future, modernized sensor suites.

“Through the leadership of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, we have been working to address the Department of Defense’s Better Buying Power and Bending the Cost Curve initiatives to deliver more value per dollar on this vital national security system,” said David Sheridan, Lockheed Martin vice president and SBIRS program manager. “SBIRS has been providing outstanding global coverage for the Air Force, and migration to the modernized A2100 will help keep SBIRS ahead of America’s adversaries while dramatically reducing costs and cycle times.”

The modernized A2100 builds on a flight-proven bus that is the foundation for more than 40 satellites in orbit today. Through an internally-funded, multi-year modernization effort, Lockheed Martin has enhanced the spacecraft’s power, propulsion and electronics, while also adopting the latest advanced manufacturing techniques to decrease production costs and timelines.

“These negotiations mark a new way of doing business through a stronger partnership with industry,” said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of SMC and the Air Force’s Program Executive Officer for Space. “Together, Lockheed Martin and the Air Force are able to provide more capability to the warfighter while reducing program costs and keeping our focus on mission assurance. I am very proud of the teamwork between the Air Force and Lockheed Martin over the last six months.”

The SBIRS program is managed by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center. 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 Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, operates the SBIRS system.