The US Air Force is ordering new satellites to harden defenses against Russian and Chinese missile threats (Source businessinsider.com)
The US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a nearly $3 billion contract for new missile early warning satellites.
The satellites support the critical US nuclear deterrence mission and serve as the first line of defense against threats from Russia and China, which are expanding their counterspace capabilities. The US Air Force is ordering three new and survivable missile warning satellites, the service revealed Tuesday in an announcement stating that the contract had been awarded to Lockheed Martin for $2.9 billion. The Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, part of the larger Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) constellation, are expected to bolster US early warning capabilities, as well as demonstrate greater survivability against present and emerging counterspace threats from US rivals and adversaries than existing systems, Defense News reported Wednesday.
“This is early warning to support our nuclear deterrence,” Thomas Karako, a senior fellow with the International Security Program and the director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider. The Next Gen OPIR constellation is expected to replace the current Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), with the first satellite launch now expected in 2023, two years earlier than initially planned. The initial procurement plans were first announced in April.