The Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin Space up to $4.9 billion for three geosynchronous Earth-orbiting space vehicles, plus ground mission software, as part of the Overhead Persistent Infrared next-generation space-based missile warning systems.
OPIR will eventually include the three GEO satellites from Lockheed, along with two satellites in polar orbit as part of Block 0. Under the new contract, Lockheed will provide engineering support for launch vehicle integration and early on-orbit checkout for all three vehicles, according to the Jan. 4 contract announcement.
The award is a modification to a previous $2.9 billion contract from August 2018 to start work on the project. Northrop Grumman in May received up to $2.4 billion to supply the two polar satellites. Under that contract, Northrop will finish phase one development in the end of 2025, with the first satellite delivered in fiscal 2027 and all five initial satellites ready in 2029.
“The primary mission is to provide initial missile warning of a ballistic missile attack on the U.S., its deployed forces, and its allies,” the Space Force said in budget documents. “Next-Gen OPIR Space enhances detection and improves reporting of intercontinental ballistic missile launches, submarine-launched ballistic missile launches, and tactical ballistic missile launches.”
The Department of the Air Force called for $2.3 billion for development of OPIR in fiscal 2021, with research and development expected to run $14.5 billion from 2020 through 2025. The system will eventually replace the Space-Based Infrared System, also produced by Lockheed.