The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded Raytheon and Lockheed Martin two separate contracts worth $107m to provide designs for the Space Fence S-band radar system.

The radar system comprises three S-band, ground-based radars designed to perform automatic detection, tracking and accurate measurement of space objects.

The radar system will be able to detect orbiting objects and debris passing over the US, and will replace the existing USAF space surveillance system, or VHF Fence.

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, alongside Northrop Grumman, have been working on the concept of the so-called “space fence” since June 2009.

Under the terms of the contract, the team is scheduled to provide preliminary designs for the system within the next 18 months.