Lockheed Martin [LMT] was awarded Tuesday a contract not to exceed $2.9 billion for three Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Space Vehicles intended to enhance the U.S. military’s early missile warning and surveillance capabilities in space.
The contract includes requirements analysis, design and development, critical path flight hardware procurement, early manufacturing and risk reduction efforts to lead to a critical design review. Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, Calif., and should be completed in 2021, according to the contract announcement.
Lockheed is “committed to delivering Next Gen OPIR rapidly to ensure our national defense stays ahead” of emerging threats, said Chip Eschenfelder, company spokesperson in an emailed statement.
The Air Force announced in May its intent to award two sole-source contracts for the next-gen OPIR program, with the first contract going to Lockheed Martin and the second to Northrop Grumman [NOC]. Northrop’s contract will focus on defining the platform’s polar system requirements.
The systems are intended to replace the current space-based infrared system (SBIRS) platforms currently providing missile warning missile defense and space surveillance. The next-gen OPIR satellites will be more survivable and provide improved missile warning capabilities over the current constellation, according to the service’s statement. Initial launch is currently slated for 2023, which would mean “cutting four years off the current procurement process and supports the service’s commitment to field new capabilities at the speed of relevance,” the Air Force said.
The service canceled the previously planned development of the sixth and seventh SBIRS satellites and requested $643 million in the fiscal year 2019 presidential budget request for engineering and manufacturing development of “evolved space-based infrared systems that invest in the next generation overhead persistent infrared system,” according to documents released in February.
The Air Force said $80 million in fiscal year 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds are being obligated at the time of award. The contract is expected to be definitized within 180 days.