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SBIRS satellite

Lockheed Martin has received a $1.86bn contract from the US Air Force to complete the production of the fifth and sixth space-based infrared system (SBIRS) geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) satellites.

The SBIRS satellites are designed to deliver timely and accurate warning for ballistic missile launches using a resilient mix of GEO satellites and highly elliptical orbit (HEO) payloads, and related ground hardware and software.

The satellites also support missile defence, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness.

Lockheed Martin Overhead Persistent Infrared mission area vice-president Jeffrey Smith said the SBIRS satellites provide capabilities critical to US national defence.

"Lockheed has so far delivered two GEO satellites and is scheduled to deliver the third later this year."

"This contract is the third part of a thoughtful acquisition strategy aimed at further reducing cost and cycle time for GEO-5 and GEO-6, while still providing exceptional data to the warfighter," Smith said.

Lockheed was awarded an $82m contract in October 2012 to undertake initial work on the two satellites and buy long lead parts. A $284.4m contract in March 2013 mandated the company to purchase additional long lead parts.

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The current fixed-price contract also includes options for acoustic testing, launch vehicle integration, launch and early on-orbit testing, and contractor operations support.

Under contract with the Space and Missile System Center (SMC) for production of four HEO payloads and four GEO satellites, Lockheed has to date delivered two satellites. The third is undergoing acoustic and thermal vacuum testing at the company’s facility in California, US, and is scheduled to be handed over to the air force by the end of this year.

Image: An impression of a geosynchronous earth orbit space-based infrared system satellite. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Defence Technology