US contracts L3Harris, Northrop Grumman for missile-tracking satellite layer to counter hypersonic threats
The US Space Development Agency (SDA) has announced the award of two prototype agreements with a total potential value of over $1.3 billion for establishment of the Tranche 1 (T1) Tracking Layer, providing the initial missile warning and tracking capability of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA). Satellites will begin to launch in April 2025.
The agreements were awarded to teams led by L3Harris Technologies and Northrop Grumman Strategic Space Systems to each build a space segment consisting of two planes with seven vehicles per plane (28 satellites in total) to collect IR data and provide network communications.
These prototypes will provide worldwide persistent indication, detection, warning, tracking and identification of conventional and advanced missile threats, including hypersonic systems.
The T1 layer will build upon existing Tranche 0 capabilities with technology enhancements, expanded coverage, increased integration, established calibration processes, and greater production efficiencies.
T1 satellites will be flown out of SDA’s Operations and Integration Centers at Grand Forks AFB and Redstone Arsenal.
In FY2022 Congress provided SDA with $550 million in additional funding to accelerate deployment of the tracking layer. Leveraging Other Transaction Authority, SDA completed a competitive source selection and finalised agreements within four months of the published solicitation in March 2022.
The award to L3 Harris has a potential value of around $700 million, and that to Northrop Grumman is worth up to $617 million.
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