17 Jun 2002
A contractor team headed by Lockheed Martin (Sunnyvale, CA) has been selected by the US Air Force to develop the High Component of the next- generation Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS). The system will give missile warning and tracking of ballistic missiles launched at the USA, its deployed forces, or allies. The initial $1.8 billion contract includes five geosynchronous satellites and detectors for two satellites in highly elliptical orbits. The first geostationary satellite will be launched in 2002, and there is potential for follow-on upgrades and expansion of the system out through 2020. A decision on deployment of a low-Earth-orbit satellite component will be made in FY2000. The SBIRS system uses dual infrared sensors, one for scanning to rapidly detect a missile in powered boost and a starring array to track the target. Aerojet (Azusa, CA) and Northrop Grumman (Bethpage, NY) will supply the primary sensor payload.