The US Air Force (USAF) is set to use Lockheed Martin ‘s modernised A2100 spacecraft for its latest infrared surveillance and missile warning satellites, enhancing system affordability and resiliency.
The fifth and sixth Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites will benefit from this spacecraft technology with no additional cost.
In 2014, the USAF signed a $1.86bn worth bulk purchase contract with Lockheed for the development of GEO-5 and GEO-6.
The new update will also provide the USAF with flexibility to use future payloads.
Lockheed Martin vice-president and SBIRS programme manager David Sheridan said: "Through the leadership of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, we have been working to address the Department of Defense’s Better Buying Power and Bending the Cost Curve initiatives to deliver more value per dollar on this vital national security system.
"SBIRS has been providing outstanding global coverage for the air force, and migration to the modernised A2100 will help keep SBIRS ahead of America’s adversaries while dramatically reducing costs and cycle times."
The upgraded A2100 offers further affordability by using common components and streamlined manufacturing. With a flexible design, it minimises the cost to incorporate future, modernised sensor suites.
Lockheed has improved the spacecraft’s power, propulsion and electronics, along with advanced manufacturing techniques to offer less production costs and timelines.
The SBIRS programme, through delivering missile warning and infrared surveillance information, improves global missile launch detection capability, supports the US’ ballistic missile defence system, andexpands the country’s technical intelligence gathering capacity, among others.
Image: The new update will enable the USAF’s satellites to improve system affordability and resiliency while also adding the flexibility to use future payloads. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.