Raytheon Intelligence & Space has been selected as the prime contractor to develop a prototype for the US Space Force’s (USSF) Missile Track Custody (MTC) programme.

As part of this contract, Raytheon will develop and deliver a space vehicle that will host the missile tracking mission payload.

The company will also deliver the associated ground-based command and control and mission-data processing components for the MTC programme.

This ground system will use Raytheon’s Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution Mission Data Processing Application Framework (FORGE MDPAF), which gathers and processes data from satellites.

The framework also collects Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) space vehicle data from the USSF’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) constellation, as well as the next-generation OPIR constellation. 

Raytheon Intelligence & Space Strategic Systems programme executive director Roger Cole said: “This is an advanced solution to counter emerging missile threats facing our country.

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“From its MEO perch, our system will enable USSF to accurately detect and track adversarial hypersonic weapons with precision accuracy.” 

The latest announcement comes a few months after Raytheon completed the critical design review (CDR) of its mission payload for the MTC programme.

The company’s mission payload will now be equipped onto the Lockheed Martin-developed LM400 satellite bus.

The LM400 includes SmartSat software-defined satellite capabilities that allow the satellite bus to deploy new capabilities and meet changing mission requirements to stay ahead of evolving adversaries.

In the next steps, the Raytheon-Lockheed Martin team is now planning to complete a system CDR later this year.

Once CDR is complete, the two companies will conduct associated build, integration and test campaign, before delivering and launching the capability in the orbit by 2026.

All the work related to this programme will be carried out in El Segundo, California, and Aurora, Colorado.