LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif., Mar.2 — The Space and Missile Systems Center along with the Airmen from the 460th Operations Group successfully commanded on-orbit missile-warning satellites from its new Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) ground system, currently in development. During the first three days of the test, the Increment 2 system demonstrated its ability to transmit and receive commands to and from each of the missile-warning satellites individually: Defense Support Program (DSP), Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO), and Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO). This marks a major risk reduction milestone as the Air Force plans to transition full missile-warning operations to the Increment 2 system in 2016.
The Increment 2 ground system will replace the existing Increment 1 ground system, which has been operational since 2001. Under the Increment 1 system, the three satellite types are controlled via three separate ground software systems located at separate facilities. Under the Increment 2 system, all operational control will be consolidated under one primary Mission Control Station (MCS) with a single backup control station. Increment 2 will also introduce a significant increase in performance capability across its four mission areas: missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence. Colonel Mike Guetlein, the Director of the Remote Sensing Systems Program Office, commented that the Increment 2 ground system “is an enormous leap forward in capability and technology. The system will increase the warfighter’s ability to better characterize world-wide threats, more accurately determine their launch point and impact points, and alert the COCOMs to an impending attack in time for them to respond appropriately.”
The SBIRS program is managed by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif. is the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrup Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, Calif., is the payload integrator. The 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colo., 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.