The U.S. Space Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $4.9 billion contract to build three missile warning satellites. The C4ISRNET website says the company already received $2.9 billion in 2018 to begin work on the satellites, which will be part of the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) system. That contract covered development through critical design review, completed in October 2020. With that step finished, the program was ready to move forward with manufacturing the satellites.
Next Gen OPIR is being built to replace the Space-Based Infrared System, the premier US missile warning constellation. The new constellation will be made up of five satellites: three in geosynchronous orbit and two covering the polar regions. The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has selected Lockheed Martin to contribute the former, while Northrop Grumman will provide the latter. The Space Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $2.4 billion contract modification in May for phase one design and development, procurement of critical flight hardware and risk-reduction efforts leading to critical design review, the website said.
The two infrared sensors under development for Next Gen OPIR passed their preliminary design review in May. Those sensors are being developed by Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems working with Ball Aerospace.