The U.S. Air Force intends to award Lockheed Martin (NYSE: NOC) and Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) separate contracts to help the service branch define requirements for its future missile warning satellite constellation.
Both companies will support the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program that aims to build a constellation of satellites that will succeed the Space Based Infrared System, the Air Force said Friday.
“As we develop these new systems, speed matters,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, a 2018 Wash100 recipient.
Lockheed provide initial design services and procure geosynchronous satellite flight hardware while Northrop will determine polar system specification through sole-source contracts.
The branch plans to use a “rapid procurement” strategy under the program and aims to launch the first OPIR satellite sometime in 2023.
“This is more than just building a prototype or a low-cost system,” said Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics.
“This is an important system for the nation, and to ‘go for the gold’ by targeting five years instead of nine years allows us to pick up the pace to defend the nation,” added Roper, also a 2018 Wash100 recipient.