Lockheed Martin Aids USAF’s GEO Satellites

The United States Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $284.4 million fixed-price contract for long-lead parts for the fifth and sixth geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) satellites in the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile-warning system. The SBIRS system is comprised of GEO satellites, hosted payloads in highly elliptical earth orbit (HEO), and associated ground hardware and software. Lockheed Martin previously received a contract to complete non-recurring-engineering (NRE) services for the GEO-5 and GEO-6 satellites and procure long-lead spacecraft parts that would enable supplier production lines to deliver the lowest possible price for each component. This contract authorizes the purchase of the remaining long-lead spacecraft components, with a final contract for full production under fixed-price terms to be awarded at a future date.

Jeff Smith, Vice President of Lockheed Martin’s Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) mission area, explains: “This contract award is a testament to the importance of the SBIRS program and reinforces the government’s confidence in our ability to produce these vital satellites efficiently going forward.” He adds: “As we produce follow on SBIRS assets, we aim to continually reduce the cost and cycle time of each space vehicle to ensure we deliver critical and resilient infrared surveillance capabilities to the nation at the best value to the government.” Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS contracts include four HEO payloads, four GEO satellites, and ground equipment to receive, process, and disseminate the IR mission data. The SBIRS system is operated by the US Air Force Space Command, with Lockheed Martin serving as the prime contractor and Northrop Grumman as the payload integrator.


Satellite Controls Unmanned Vehicle

Satellite-based control of battlefield vehicles took one step closer to becoming reality with a recent demonstration at Camp Grayling, MI by Lockheed Martin. During the demonstration, the company’s Squad Mission Support System™ (SMSS) was being controlled via satellite from more than 200 miles away.

The SMSS unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) conducted several battlefield surveillance operations while being controlled beyond line-of-sight via satellite from the US Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (Warren, MI). The SMSS was equipped with a Gyrocam 9M Tactical Surveillance Sensor and a General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies “SATCOM-On-the-Move” system. The hope for the demonstration was to show that the unmanned system can provide the needed battlefield situational awareness while keeping soldiers out of harm’s way. According to Joe Zinecker, Director of Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, “These demonstrations allow the Army development communities to better understand capabilities available to them with SMSS right now. We are showing our customers innovative ways to employ SMSS vehicles in missions while demonstrating that we are ready to move from technology development to fielding these valuable and mature new capabilities.”

The SMSS used an adjustable-height mast with the Gyrocam 9M to acquire a high-resolution electro-optical and thermal video. SMSS movement and sensor functions were controlled at the remote station, through the line-of-sight satellite. In a simulated mission, an operator provided a pre-planned route and SMSS autonomy allowed navigation with minimal operator intervention. Other autonomous functions—such as follow-me, go- to-point, and retro-traverse—were also demonstrated.

Zinecker notes that “the concept of an affordable common mobility platform coupled with specialized mission equipment packages is the right answer for UGVs to reduce development, production, and sustainment costs, while providing maximum flexibility for commanders. SMSS continues to demonstrate its readiness to move into the next phase of the Army’s UGV roadmap.”


Secure Mode 5 IFF System Passes Tests

A pair of leading United Kingdom defense suppliers recently teamed on the successful over-the-air testing of an upgraded Mode 5 identification friend or foe (IFF) system. The trial involved Raytheon UK and Thales UK. The former is a subsidiary of Raytheon Co. and a major supplier to the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), while the latter is a major supplier to aerospace, defense, and security markets. The trials, performed at Raytheon’s Matching Green test range (Harlow, UK) in early December, involved Thales’ TSA1412 Interrogator and Raytheon UK’s IFF4810 Transponder, a standard-fit Successor IFF (SIFF) product with Mode 5-enabled upgrade.

The Mode 5 system is designed to provide a high level of cryptographic security while also featuring excellent resistance to electronic-countermeasures (ECM) efforts. The Raytheon and Thales equipment were fitted with model KIV-77 Mode 5 Cryptocomputers developed by Raytheon in the United States. Raytheon and Thales teamed as part of an agreement signed in July 2012 to pursue the MOD procurement of the next-generation NATO interoperable Mode 5 IFF system. The IFF system, which can be fitted to aircraft, ships, and missile defense systems, allows them to identify friendly and hostile forces.

Richard Daniel, Managing Director for Raytheon UK’s defense business, remarked that “Raytheon has invested in developing the Mode 5 upgrades for existing equipment, and Thales has Mode 5-qualified equipment already in service with French and other NATO armed forces. By teaming, we exploit the complementary strengths of both companies to minimize platform integration risks for Mode 5.” He added that “together, we would seek to ensure maximum continuity of operational availability by applying our already successful front-line support model during the transition to Mode 5.” Victor Chavez, Chief Executive Officer for Thales UK, elaborates: “IFF Mode 5 is an important program enabling future interoperability for the UK in NATO coalition operations. Both Thales and Raytheon have cutting-edge capability in this area, and by working together we would provide the UK MOD with a world leading IFF solution.”


SM-3 Space Sensor Helps Take Out Target

Tracking data from a remote sensor on Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator (STSS-D) satellites helped destroy a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target. The test was performed with the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) space sensor from Raytheon Co. sending guidance data to a SM-3 Block IA missile fired from the US Navy’s USS Lake Erie guided-missile cruiser. For the test, the MRBM target missile was launched from the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (Kauai, HI). Once above the horizon, the target was acquired and tracked by STSS-D satellites, with threat data relayed through the Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) system to the ship. Based on the STSS tracking data, the ship’s crew fired the SM-3 missile before the ship’s radar had acquired the target missile.

The test was performed to prove the “launch on remote” concept, first demonstrated during testing in April 2011 when a US Naval destroyer used tracking data provided by a Raytheon-built AN/TPY-2 radar on Wake Island to engage and destroy an intermediate-range ballistic missile target using an SM-3 Block IA missile. Wes Kremer, Raytheon Missile Systems’ Vice President of Air and Missile Defense Systems, notes: “Launching on remote is important because it extends the engagement range of the missile, allowing ships with the SM-3 to expand the battle space and eliminate threats sooner.”

Bill Hart, Vice President of Space Systems for Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business, adds that “STSS-D’s unique vantage point in space allows the sensor payload to see the threat early in its trajectory, and provide launch quality data sooner than nearly any other option. We can give our naval war fighters extra time to analyze and respond by providing target data before the ship can track the threat. That’s a tremendous advantage.”


Boeing Recognizes Richardson RFPD

Boeing Co. has presented Richardson RFPD with the 2012 Boeing Performance Excellent Award. Boeing annually issues the award to suppliers that have provided excellent performance. Richardson RFPD maintained a Silver composite performance rating for each month of the 12-month performance period, from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012. Boeing recognized 594 suppliers that have achieved either a Gold or Silver level award; Richardson RFPD was one of 441 suppliers to receive the Silver level award.

Greg Peloquin, President of Richardson RFPD, explains: “We are proud to be recognized by a customer as prestigious as the Boeing Co. for superior supplier performance.” He adds that “Richardson RFPD takes great pride in working alongside our customers to provide support, products, and solutions for their design visions, and the Boeing Performance Excellence Award further motivates us to continue striving for operational excellence in all facets of our global business.” Richardson RFPD supplies a wide range of RF/microwave, interconnect, and power-conversion products for the aerospace and defense industries.