Northrop Grumman has said a key US Space Force Space Systems Command next-generation missile warning system has passed its preliminary design review.
The Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Polar program design review covered the “full integration of the Eagle-3 spacecraft with the infrared sensor, auxiliary and high-bandwidth communication payloads,” Northrop explained.
The $4.9 billion program comprises five satellites to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles: two polar satellites from Northrop and three geosynchronous satellites by Lockheed Martin.
The Northrop satellites are being designed to travel in highly elliptical polar orbits covering the entire northern hemisphere, which offers the “highest probability of spotting potential missile launches,” the company said.
Northrop’s first satellite is scheduled for launch in 2028.
Next-Gen Missile Warning System
The system detects incoming missiles by heat signature and transmits the data to the ground for decision-makers to respond appropriately.
According to the company, the system has inbuilt resiliency features against counter-space and cyberattack vulnerabilities.
“Northrop Grumman is on an accelerated path to delivering an early-warning missile system capable of surviving attacks from space, ground, or cyber elements,” Northrop vice president Alex Fax said.
“[Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Polar] satellites will maintain a direct line of communication back to the continental United States, limiting dependency on overseas ground station sites.”