SMC awards Lockheed $4.9B Next-Gen OPIR contract modification

By Courtney Albon / January 4, 2021 at 6:08 PM

The Space and Missile Systems Center today awarded Lockheed Martin a $4.9 billion undefinitized contract modification for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program.

The Air Force in 2018 selected Lockheed to develop three Next-Gen OPIR satellites that will reside in geosynchronous orbit (GEO). The original contract was for $2.9 billion, which included funds for requirements analysis, “critical flight hardware procurement” and other early manufacturing and risk-reduction work.

The new modification will support manufacturing, assembly, integration, test and delivery of the first three satellites as well as mission-unique ground and sensor-processing software. It also funds launch and early on-orbit checkout for all three GEO satellites.

The contract announcement notes the Space Force is releasing $99 million at the time of the award.

Next-Gen OPIR is the follow-on program to the Space-Based Infrared System, a key piece of the Defense Department’s missile warning architecture. Along with Lockheed’s GEO-based satellite development, Northrop Grumman is on contract to build two polar satellites, together comprising Block 0 of the service’s OPIR modernization plan. The Space Force expects to begin launching the first slate of GEO satellites in fiscal year 2025.

A new Pentagon report obtained by Inside Defense offers details on the service’s space-based missile defense and missile-warning architecture strategy. The report highlights the Space Force’s plans to use prototyping efforts led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Space Development Agency to inform future Next-Gen OPIR requirements -- including whether Block 1 satellites should reside in lower orbits.