The Missile Defense Agency’s two space tracking and surveillance system demonstration satellites detected and tracked a Minuteman III ICBM that was launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., during a recent test mission over the Pacific Ocean, according to Northrop Grumman. The company is the prime contractor for these satellites, having built them with an industry team including Raytheon. According to Northrop’s July 16 release, the two STSS satellites transmitted tracking data on the Minuteman during the June 16 flight to the missile defense integration and operations center at Schriever AFB, Colo., where the information is being analyzed. Gabe Watson, Northrop’s vice president of missile called the satellites’ involvement “another reliable performance” that is “an encouraging development for the nation’s missile defense system.” Earlier in June, the STSS spacecraft detected and tracked a missile defense interceptor fired from Vandenberg.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.