Lockheed Martin Awarded $915 USAF Contract

exterior-photo-i-took-at-my-interviewThe U.S. Air Force awarded a $915 million contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. to build a radar system to detect small space debris. The ‘space junk’ is orbiting waste that travels as fast as 17,500 per hour, putting satellites and the International Space Station at risk. Lockheed beat Raytheon Co., a Waltham, Massachusetts firm after years of competition for work. Lockheed is located in Bethesda, Maryland.  Lockheed will be building a space fence that could detect smaller debris than ever before, under an Air Force system installed in 1961.

Retired Raytheon Program Manager and Zintro expert Alfred Oakland shares his opinion. “Although significant advancements have been made in radar performance since 1961, it will remain a challenge to discriminate ‘junk’ objects against the background of empty space. Raytheon has considerable experience in this challenge through their development of the EKV, the ‘Kill Vehicle’ used atop the deployed anti-missile system.

“Lockheed may not recognize the software challenge and size of the processing necessary to meet the USAF requirements. A host of cell phone and ‘other’ satellites have been launched by a wealth of nations some of which have not deployed successfully and which would be classified as ‘junk.’ Cooperation with the military and civil owners of that junk may be difficult and complicate the Lockheed tasks.

“The key to winning a contract of this size is to fully and completely understand the requirements –not only the published statements of work and contract documents – but the intuitive wants and desires of the USAF Program Office and Pentagon brass. For the contract to succeed and remain funded – and make money for Lockheed – change control must be managed within the overall funding limits set by Congress. This could get tricky if it becomes a popular media focused item. (I am assuming it is a CPIF contract.) I wouldn’t discount RTN protesting the award and trying to influence a review of the requirements and re-proposal.”

Zintro expert Nicos Rousos is a mechanical engineer with over 37 years of experience in high end project management. “To trace such small size items in so long a distance fromearth at normal (not ideal) weather conditions is extremely difficult,” says Rousos. “As I see, it will take three or more satellite radar telescopes (multiple sensor eyes) orbited in different radii and directions, but in the same area. They will need to be able to be relocated in order to scan the area and send the signals to earth for interpretation and mapping. This will allow the system to function out ofweather and other electromagnetic interference. More than one satellite can give better signal verification and versatility as well as redundancy.”

Zintro has experts in every industry sector, across every job function, in every geographic region. Recently, some of the following topics have seen inquiry activity: