The US Air Force's (USAF) Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite has been delivered to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The delivery comes ahead of the satellite's launch aboard United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in October this year.
The Lockheed Martin-built SBIRS includes a combination of satellites in GEO orbit, hosted payloads in highly elliptical orbit (HEO), and ground hardware and software.
Using the data provided by SBIRS, the military will be able to better detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defence, expand technical intelligence gathering, and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield.
Lockheed Martin Overhead Persistent Infrared systems mission area vice-president David Sheridan said: “SBIRS GEO satellites are our nation’s missile warning sentinels and are critical assets to the US military’s continually evolving mission.
“With GEO Flight 3’s successful testing and delivery to the launch site, we’re expanding the military’s ability to receive timely, reliable and accurate missile warning and infrared surveillance information.”
Produced at Lockheed Martin's facility in Sunnyvale, California, the SBIRS GEO Flight 3 was transported via a C-5 Galaxy aircraft from Moffett Federal Air Field.
The 460th Space Wing stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado operates the SBIRS system.
The next SBIRS satellite, GEO Flight 4, is in storage and will undergo final assembly, integration and test operations prior to its planned launch next year.
SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6 featuring new modernised A2100 spacecraft are currently in the production phase. The spacecraft was added to reduce costs and cycle times while increasing the potential to incorporate future, modernised sensor suites, the company said.
Image: The SBIRS GEO Flight 3 satellite undergoes final preparations at Lockheed Martin. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.