The US Air Force Space Command’s (AFSPC) Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the 460th Space Wing have completed the space-based infrared system’s (SBIRS) Block 10 integrated test and evaluation (IT&E) readiness soak at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado.

Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS is an early warning defence satellite system developed for the AFSPC.

SMC Remote Sensing System director colonel Mike Guetlein said: "For the first time, live mission messages were sent from the Block 10 floor.

"This is another huge step toward operational acceptance."

"This is another huge step toward operational acceptance."

The 14-day test included complete command and control (C2) and mission management of the full constellation, and full operational crew posture and execution of operations.

Additionally, the procedure verified total system readiness and strength for IT&E start.

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The Block 10 of the SBIRS programme combines operational C2 of defense support programme satellites, space-based infrared system geosynchronous earth orbiting and highly elliptical orbit sensors under one primary mission control station.

Additionally, it increases performance capability across its four mission areas: missile warning, missile defence, battle space awareness, and technical intelligence.

460th Space Wing commander colonel John Wagner said: "This is a full-function test flight of our new ground system where our Airmen conduct full warning and detection functionality combined with intensive spacecraft command and control of all three of our spacecraft constellations.

"This was our shakedown cruise."

The test was the final Block 10 Increment 2 system test prior to the formal evaluation by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center.

Increment 2 is aimed at increasing the ability of SBIRS to manage complex, emerging threats, while minimising USAF operations and maintenance costs.