The Air Force awarded BAE Systems a series of contract modifications worth more than $60 million to continue supporting three large radar and telescope systems used for missile warning and space surveillance missions, according to a company statement.
The three systems, the Solid State Phased Array Radar System (SSPARS), the Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterization System (PARCS) and the Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System (GEODSS) help detect and identify various man-made objects in space, such as active or inactive satellites, rocket parts and other debris. The systems also track objects that may enter the atmosphere, which is vital to missile defense operations.
BAE provides a range of technical services, including round-the-clock operations and maintenance (O&M), to manage and sustain these assets. BAE Support Solutions Director of Land Space O&M Ken Grant said Tuesday the company also operates dining facilities, vehicle maintenance operations, supply chain operations, among others, for the three programs. Grant also said, for GEODSS, the company operations the mission system for the Air Force.
BAE received Sept. 14 a $49 million contract extension for fiscal year 2013 for SSPARS, which is a complex network of radars that tracks approximately 10,000 objects orbiting Earth. SSPARS identifies and catalogs the objects and helps prevent them from colliding with satellites and the International Space Station. BAE maintains the radars that make approximately 40,000 space observations each day from five locations: Cape Cod Air Force Station, Mass.; Beale AFB, Calif.; Clear Air Force Station, Alaska; Thule Air Base in Greenland and Royal Air Force Fylingdales in the United Kingdom.
PARCS is a similar radar to SSPARS that is located at Cavalier Air Force Station, N.D., and carries out many of the same missions. BAE also received a $7 million contract extension for FY ’13 on Sept. 14.
GEODSS is a network that uses powerful telescopes, low-light cameras and computers instead of radars to detect, track and report man-made objects in deep space. GEODSS is mostly concerned with objects at about 3,000 miles from earth and beyond. BAE spokesman Neil Franz said Tuesday the company was notified Sept. 14 of a $5.5 million contract extension for GEODSS for FY ’13. GEODSS work will take place in Maui, Hawaii; Socorro, N.M.; and the island of Diego Garcia, located in the Indian Ocean.
Grant said BAE faces a few challenges to maintaining O&M for both telescopes and radars. He said since the company operates the GEODSS mission system for the Air Force, it is required to maintain a well-trained staff to operate the system and respond to contingencies. Grant said the company meets this requirement through a rigorous training program that includes initial qualification/evaluation, monthly recurring training and annual evaluations.
Grant said another challenge is that telescopes and radars use two completely different technologies and have their own unique attributes. Grant said the GEODSS telescopes provide better accuracy for deep space objects in the Geosynchronous Belt while the radars can collect more objects, but with less granularity. Grant said radars can also operate in any weather conditions any time of the day, but the telescopes can only operate after sundown.