Space-Based Radar vendors picked

The Air Force recently selected three vendor teams to develop and demonstrate a prototype radar payload for the futuristic Space-Based Radar (SBR) system.

SBR will enable warfighters to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions in dangerous areas at any time and is intended to bridge the gap between defense and intelligence communities, according to Peter Teets, undersecretary of the Air Force and director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Teets testified last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee's Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

Harris Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Co. were each awarded three-year contracts Feb. 21. The initial value of the contracts is $8.6 million, with options that could exceed about 10 times that amount during the three years of the prototype program.

Under terms of the contract with the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and the NRO Joint Program Office, Harris will conduct a three-year study of SBR payload, said Bob Henry, president of the company's Government Communications Systems Division.

The Harris SBR payload concept includes on-board processing technology and a large electronically scanned array that will enable each spacecraft to collect and process large amounts of data and imagery in near real-time. Personnel on the ground then will use the data for tracking moving targets, Henry said.

Also testifying last week, Navy Adm. James Ellis Jr., commander of Strategic Command, said the SBR system, as well as numerous others being used, are essential to ensuring that DOD and intelligence personnel have all the information and enhanced situational awareness necessary to make decisions, anticipate conflicts and win future battles.

The final payload design, development, production and support program for all SBR spacecraft could reach $1 billion by 2013 for the winning company, which will be selected at the conclusion of the prototype phase, according to Harris.

DOD's SBR request for fiscal 2004 is $274 million, with an estimated initial launch in 2012 and final cost of $4.4 billion, Teets said.

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