Next-Gen OPIR achieves preliminary design review for GEO satellites

By Courtney Albon / October 11, 2019 at 10:25 AM

The Air Force announced this week the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program has completed a preliminary design review for the geosynchronous earth orbit portion of the effort.

The milestone was completed Sept. 27, and the service said in a statement this week the program will now begin a yearlong "PDR campaign" to review subsystem and component-level designs. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the GEO satellites.

"The combined government and contractor team has demonstrated its ability to move with deliberate speed over the past 18 months while maintaining the technical and programmatic rigor needed to ensure success," Col. Dennis Bythewood, the Space and Missile Systems Center's program executive officer for space development, said in the statement.

The program is applying authorities provided in Section 804 of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act to deliver Next-Gen OPIR on a faster schedule. The move required a change in acquisition strategy and a shift in the program's funding profile that required a significant budget increase in FY-19 and FY-20. Congress recently approved the service's request to reprogram more than $160 million for the program, but the initiative is still short about $472 million.

Bythewood said in the statement he's confident the service will fill that gap in FY-20.

The first block of Next-Gen OPIR satellites will include five space vehicles -- three in GEO and two in polar orbit.