Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] fifth space-based infrared system (SBIRS) missile warning satellite is in qualification testing, as the company has completed a preliminary design review (PDR) on the follow-on to SBIRS–the next-generation overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) Block O GEO satellites, a company official said on Nov. 10.
“SBIRS 5 is finishing up real soon,” Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space, told reporters. “It’s been through a good chunk of its qualification testing.”
“The team is running fast and hard and furious on OPIR behind that,” he said.
SBIRS GEO-5 will be the first military satellite with the LM 2100 bus, which is to feature modern electronics, improved resiliency, and a reprogrammable onboard mission processor to permit satellite re-configuration on orbit in response to mission needs.
In an Air Force and U.S. Space Force effort to hasten satellite fielding, SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6, as well as the first iteration of Next-Gen OPIR, are on five-year development timelines, and the fulfillment of the Next-Gen OPIR schedule has received scrutiny from Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper and Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles AFB, Calif.
While the pandemic has brought delays to many military programs, Lockheed Martin said in June that it expected SBIRS GEO-5 to launch next year, followed by SBIRS GEO-6 in 2022, and the first Next-Gen OPIR Block 0 in 2025. The company has said that global ballistic missile threats have grown and that the on-orbit SBIRS satellites detected nearly a thousand missile launches globally last year–a two-fold increase in two years.