Lockheed Martin has awarded a contract to General Dynamics (GD) C4 Systems SATCOM Technologies to design and build the ground structures for the US Air Force’s (USAF) Space Fence programme.
The contract forms part of a $915m deal awarded by USAF to Lockheed in June, for development of Space Fence, a multistatic radar system designed to enhance the service’s ability to identify and track space debris.
Under the contract, GD will develop ground structures and will also integrate the mechanical systems for Space Fence.
The ground structures are expected to house the Space Fence radar elements and other operations related to the system.
General Dynamics C4 Systems president Chris Marzilli said: "Just like the precision radio-telescope antennas, General Dynamics C4 Systems SATCOM Technologies’ expertise in building exceptionally large, exquisitely engineered structures will contribute to keeping the satellites we depend on for communications, weather forecasting and other services from colliding with space debris."
Claimed to be a key asset in USAF’s space situational awareness (SSA) plans, Space Fence is a multiphase programme seeking delivery of up to two, globally positioned, S-band radars to enable accurate detection, tracking, measurement and recording of objects and debris orbiting the Earth.
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The system will replace the existing air force space surveillance system (AFSSS), which has been tracking space debris since the 1960s and was decommissioned in September 2013 due to budgetary constraints.
Construction of the first S-band radar is scheduled to start in mid-2015 on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
The June contract also includes a series of options that cover possible construction of the second radar site in the western Australian city of Perth, which would however, be awarded only after the Kwajalein site achieves IOC in 2018, as reported earlier by AirForceTimes.