The US Space Force has awarded L3Harris Technologies a $29 million contract to design a sensor payload for a satellite-based missile warning and tracking system operating in medium-Earth orbit (MEO).
L3Harris will design the payload for Epoch 1 of the Resilient Missile Warning and Missile Tracking (MW/MT) MEO effort.
“Upon successful completion of a sensor design, SSC (Space Systems Command) will then have the option to purchase up to three total payloads and satellites,” the SSC stated in a press release.
Missile Warning and Missile Tracking Program
The Resilient MW/MT effort comprises a constellation of satellites for missile warning and tracking at altitudes between 1,200 and 22,000 miles (1,931 and 35,406 kilometers).
Under the program, the SSC plans to deliver Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) satellites every three years in each Epoch, starting in 2026 and 2027.
“Each Epoch is expected to include at least one competitive award and allows for insertion of new technology, innovative solutions, and progressive or updated warfighter requirements to ultimately meet future capability needs,” US Space Force primary acquisition command explained in a March 31 request for information.
Overhead Persistent Infrared Satellite
The OPIR satellites are being developed to detect incoming missiles through their heat signature and transmit data to the ground for appropriate response.
L3Harris will join Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing subsidiary, and Raytheon Intelligence and Space on the Resilient MW/MT MEO’s Epoch 1 space vehicle efforts.
“Adding a third vendor reduces risk and non-recurring engineering not only for Epoch 1, but for future Epochs as well,” SSC senior material leader Col. Heather Bogstie said.
“Having another payload option opens the trade space and allows us to take advantage of all industry has to offer as we deliver high-quality capability to the warfighter.”