The Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded four $500,000 contracts to study replacement systems for its Space Based Environmental Monitoring mission, which performs space-based cloud characterization and produces theater weather imagery. Electro Optical Vista, Millennium Space Systems, Orbital ATK, and Raytheon will provide concept reports to SMC by the end of Fiscal 2019. The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program constellation currently supports the SBEM mission, providing “essential environmental sensing data to the warfighter,” but it deployed in 1962 and needs updating. Each study is expected to lay out “new long-term solutions” for the SBEM mission, and the Air Force will use the results to inform a decision about a follow-on program. “The weather mission is of critical importance to national security,” said Stephen Pluntze, deputy director of SMC’s Remote Sensing Systems Directorate, according to a press release. “We made it a point to reach out to small business, academia, research institutions, and established industry partners to drive innovative solutions while remaining focused on cost savings.”
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.