The U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] an $82 million contract to begin initial work on the fifth and sixth geosynchronous (GEO) satellites in the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile warning constellation.
Featuring a mix of GEO satellites, hosted payloads in highly elliptical earth (HEO) orbit, and associated ground hardware and software, the SBIRS program delivers resilient and improved missile warning capabilities for the nation while simultaneously providing significant contributions to the military’s missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness mission areas.
The acquisition of GEO-5 and 6 will come in three phases. Under this first phase, Lockheed Martin will complete non-recurring engineering activities for GEO-5 and 6 and procure select long lead spacecraft parts enabling supplier production lines to deliver the lowest possible price for each component. The two subsequent acquisition phases will fund procurement of the remaining long lead parts, as well as satellite production under a fixed-price contract structure.
“This initial contract will sustain a steady production rate and by the Air Force acquiring satellites in bulk, rather than one at a time, we can significantly reduce costs by achieving economies of scale,” said Jeff Smith, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) mission area. “We understand both the importance of the SBIRS mission and the weight of the current fiscal environment – and we are committed to delivering mission success affordably and efficiently for the Air Force.”
Lockheed Martin’s previous SBIRS contracts have included four HEO payloads, four GEO satellites, and ground assets to receive, process, and disseminate the infrared mission data. Under the new contract, the team will begin work on the fifth and sixth GEO satellites.
Two HEO payloads and the first geosynchronous (GEO-1) satellite have already been launched. GEO-2 is scheduled for launch in March of 2013.
The SBIRS team is led by the Infrared Space Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the SBIRS prime contractor, Northrop Grumman is the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation’s net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.
Source and photo: Lockheed Martin