Lockheed Martin [LMT] on Apr. 13 announced its intention to build a new line of “rapid, integrated and affordable” tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) satellites based on the company’s LM 400 refrigerator-sized bus


The new, ISR birds are to permit military forces “to track moving targets at long ranges and operate in contested and denied environments — on compressed timelines at the scale of battle,” per Lockheed Martin.

The company launched the LM 400 effort last year to provide large satellite capability in significantly smaller, configurable satellites with higher on-board processing power and a software-reconfigurable payload interface.

Lockheed Martin said that the LM 400 uses a Modular Open Systems Architecture and the company’s SmartSat technology, which is to introduce “cloud-like data processing in orbit to dramatically shorten the sensor to shooter timeframe,” as the data “can be directly downlinked to warfighters in theater.”

The new, tactical ISR satellites are to follow Open Mission System and Universal Command and Control Interface standards to ease interoperability and to support payloads up to 14 kilowatts and 3,300 pounds.

“Powered by on-board processing and resilient connectivity, this tactical ISR satellite line enables in-theater, low-latency sensor tasking, on-orbit processing of mission data, protected communications and direct downlink of situational awareness and targeting information, increasingly essential to shortening the sensor-to-shooter timeline against fleeting targets,” per Lockheed Martin. “The LM 400-based tactical ISR satellites will play a key role in Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) by allowing tactical warfighters to better employ space-based capabilities.”

In addition, last August, the Space Development Agency awarded Lockheed Martin a $187.5 million contract to build 10 satellites for an initial space-based sensor and tactical communications constellation–Tranche O–of the National Defense Space Architecture’s Transport Layer (Defense Daily, Sep. 1, 2020). Tranche 0 is to be fielded by 2022 and is to be the backbone of JADC2.