The U.S. Air Force on Jan. 4 awarded Lockheed Martin [LMT] a modification worth up to $4.9 billion on the company’s existing contract for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Reconnaissance (Next-Gen OPIR) satellite system for work associated with the manufacturing, assembly, integration, test, and delivery of three Next-Gen OPIR satellites and delivery of ground mission unique software and ground sensor processing software.

“Additionally, this modification includes engineering support for launch vehicle integration and launch and early on-orbit checkout for all three [satellites],” DoD said in the contract announcement. “Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, California, and is expected to be completed May 31, 2028.  Fiscal 2021 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $99,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award.”

Lockheed Martin-built Next Gen OPIR GEO Space Vehicle

In November, Lockheed Martin said that it had completed a preliminary design review (PDR) on the Block 0 GEO satellites for Next-Gen OPIR–the follow-on to the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile warning satellites. (Defense Daily, Nov. 10). A critical design review is scheduled for September.

In October, 2018, Lockheed Martin selected Raytheon [RTN] and a Northrop Grumman [NOC]-Ball Aerospace [BLL] team to compete to provide the mission payload for Next-Gen OPIR (Defense Daily, Oct. 4, 2018).

Lockheed Martin won the non-competitive, sole-source contract worth $2.9 billion to develop the three Next-Gen OPIR geosynchronous satellites in August, 2018, while Northrop Grumman was selected to develop two Polar orbit satellites to complete the Block 0 architecture.

The Jan. 4 Air Force award to Lockheed Martin was the expected, “Phase 2” follow-on contract to the 2018 award to the company for the development of the three satellites.

In August, 2018, the Air Force said that the Next-Gen OPIR award to Lockheed Martin was sole-source because “only Lockheed Martin Space has the ability to meet” the first satellite’s launch date of fiscal year 2025 and award to any other company “would result in an unacceptable schedule delay in fulfilling the Air Force’s urgent fielding requirements and substantial duplication of cost to the government that is not expected to be recovered through competition.”