Scanning the Near-term Horizon

The office of the Pentagon’s weapon czar, John Young, issued a request to industry last month for information on commercial and international space radar systems—both planned and existing—that may be leveraged by the US military to meet its surveillance needs. The Air Force has led the DOD pursuit over the years of various space radar projects intended to field an orbital system that could provide capability such as high-quality synthetic aperture radar imagery, surface moving target indication, and open ocean surveillance. But for various reasons, these efforts have floundered. Most recently, DOD and the Intelligence Community axed the Space Radar program in March, saying the joint project was too expensive and would be restructured. Since then we haven’t heard much. But, according to a Federal Business Opportunities release, Young’s office is interested in learning more about space radar imaging data from currently operating systems as well as low-cost, low-risk systems that could be ready for operations in Fiscal 2012. “The government is particularly interested in existing space radar system designs with demonstrated on-orbit performance,” reads the announcement. It notes that “funding has been requested for providing space radar data and/or a new acquisition which could begin in Fiscal 2009, with initial government operation of the first vehicle expected in Fiscal 2012.” Young’s crew wants feedback by Sept. 8.