Monday, March 11, 2013

Two more SBIRS satellites and additional tests of LRASM missile

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a $71 milion contract to Lockheed Martin to conduct air and surface-launched flight tests of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM).

As part of this contract, an additional air-launched LRASM flight test will be conducted from a B-1B bomber in 2013. Two air-launched flight tests were already scheduled for 2013 under an earlier contract. Two surface-launched LRASM flight tests are scheduled for 2014.

The LRASM is a stealthy, autonomous, subsonic anti-ship cruise missile based on the AGM-158 JASSM-ER. It can be launched from both aircraft and warships. A supersonic variant othe LRASM was initially proposed, but later cancelled.

The United States Air Force has also awarded a $284.4 million contract to procure long lead parts for the fifth and sixth Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites that are part of the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite constellation.

The SBIRS constellation consists of Highly-elliptical Earth Orbit (HEO) satellites in addition to the GEO satellites and provide early missile warning of ballistic missile launched.

So far, 4 HEO satellites and 6 GEO satellites are to be acquired. Of these, 2 HEO satellites and 1 GEO satellite have already been launched into orbit. A second GEO satellite is scheduled to be launched in March 2013.

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