The Air Force last month awarded $30 million contracts each to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon for phase A concept development work on the proposed upgrade to the Air Force space surveillance system, a string of ground-based space-surveillance radars across the US known as the “space fence.” The Air Force wants to transition the system from the VHF band to an S-band frequency by the middle of next decade for more tracking accuracy and the ability to detect and monitor smaller objects and debris. During phase A, the contractors will perform prototyping, design, trade studies, and analysis of potential system configurations, concluding with a system design review and final prototyping demonstration. “The ability to detect and to track smaller objects in space will significantly improve mission support for Air Force space operations in an increasingly complex domain,” said Linda Haines, the Air Force’s space fence program manager, in a release issued by Lockheed yesterday. The contracts were awarded on June 15 (Pentagon contract announcements from that day.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.