Air Force plans to accelerate defendable space with Next-Gen OPIR


WASHINGTON – The Air Force announced its intention to award two sole-source contracts for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program. 

In order to maintain space superiority over its adversaries, the Air Force is implementing rapid procurement authorities and is targeting the first Next-Gen OPIR launch in 2023. This establishes an aggressive goal of cutting four years off the current procurement process and supports the service’s commitment to field new capabilities at the speed of relevance.

“As we develop these new systems, speed matters,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “The next generation missile warning satellite will be a pace-setter.”

Next-Gen OPIR will succeed the current Space Based Infrared System by providing improved missile warning capabilities that are more survivable against emerging threats.

The first contract will be sole-sourced to Lockheed Martin Space to define requirements, create the initial design and identify and procure flight hardware for a satellite to operate in geosynchronous orbit. The second contract will be sole-sourced to Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems to define polar system requirements. 

“The next generation missile warning will be an important pace-setter for learning to speed up traditional acquisitions. This is more than just building a prototype or a low-cost system,” said Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “This is an important system for the nation, and to ‘go for the gold’ by targeting five years instead of nine years allows us to pick up the pace to defend the nation.”

The Air Force is the lead agency for procuring Next-Gen OPIR satellites. The Space and Missile Systems Center’s Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California is the acquisition program office. Today, the Air Force operates 77 satellites vital to national security that provide communications, command and control, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, weather and GPS for the world.