Air Force moves ahead with defendable space missile-warning capabilities

WASHINGTON. The U.S. Air Force is moving to award two sole-source contracts for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) program, as it implements rapid-procurement practices. It is targeting the first Next-Gen OPIR launch in 2023.

The first will be sole-sourced to Space to define requirements, create the initial design, and identify and procure flight hardware for a satellite to operate in geosynchronous orbit; while the second contract will be sole-sourced to Aerospace Systems to define polar system requirements.

The Air Force is the lead agency for procuring Next-Gen satellites, with the Space and Missile Systems Center's Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, acting as the acquisition program office. The Air Force currently operates 77 satellites vital to national security that provide communications, command and control, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, weather, and for the world.

"The next generation missile warning will be an important pace-setter for learning to speed up traditional acquisitions. This is more than just building a prototype or a low-cost system," said Dr. 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."