The Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center recently announced the completion of two major milestones in the development and fielding of its new Space-based Infrared System ground system.
For the first time the new system, dubbed Block 10 Increment 2, simultaneously commanded the full missile warning constellation of Defense Support Program satellites, SBIRS Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting satellites and SBIRS Highly Elliptical Orbit sensors. In addition, this Full Constellation test enabled the completion of the Capability Evaluation phase. The Block 10 upgrade enables consolidation of operational control under one primary Mission Control Station with a single backup control station.
Block 10 will also introduce a significant increase in performance capability across its four mission areas: missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence.
The Full Constellation test event was conducted from the MCS at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., by 460th Operations Group personnel. Leveraging lessons learned from previous SBIRS ground upgrades, the Block 10 plan has successfully implemented a “crawl, walk, run” approach as it has incrementally demonstrated the functionality of the new integrated command and control for the DSP, GEO and HEO constellations.
The completion of the CE phase marks the readiness of the Block 10 upgrade to proceed out of the development phase and into formal test activities. It also verified the Block 10 system’s performance against requirements and demonstrated the ground system’s readiness for operational use.
“The completion of Full Constellation and Capability Evaluation are major accomplishments and risk reduction efforts on our way to Operational Acceptance next year,” said Col. Mike Guetlein, SMC’s Remote Sensing Systems director. “The continued hard work, dedication, and expertise of the combined SBIRS team led to these key milestones.”
Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander added, “I’m extremely proud of our Airmen, our SMC and contractor partners who are at the heart of this system. They’ve worked diligently around the clock to ensure we have this leap forward in capability as one team. This is possible only because of this amazing partnership and their hard work.”
The SBIRS program is managed by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif., is the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, Calif., is the payload integrator. The 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB, operates the SBIRS system.
The SBIRS program delivers timely, reliable and accurate missile warning and infrared surveillance information to the president of the United States, the secretary of defense, combatant commanders, the intelligence community and other key decision makers. The system enhances global missile launch detection capability, supports the nation’s ballistic missile defense system, expands the country’s technical intelligence gathering capacity and bolsters situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.
SMC is the U.S. Air Force’s center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.