SBIRS, considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs, is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands in four national security mission areas:
SBIRS will provide reliable, unambiguous, timely and accurate warning for theater and strategic missile launches to the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, Combatant Commanders, and other users
The system will deliver critical information supporting the effective operation of missile defense systems against national and theater threats
SBIRS will provide the ability to characterize infrared (IR) event signatures, phenomenology, and threat performance data for strategic and operational combatant commanders, the intelligence community, and others
The SBIRS constellation will deliver comprehensive infrared data to Combatant Commanders, Joint Task Force Commanders and other users to help characterize battlespace conditions supporting force protection, strike planning and other missions.
The SBIRS architecture consists of hosted sensor payloads in Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO), dedicated Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting (GEO) satellites, and the associated ground infrastructure to receive, process, and deliver the infrared information to key decision makers.
The SBIRS team is led by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman, as the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system.
Lockheed Martin's original SBIRS contract includes HEO payloads, two geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellites, as well as ground-based assets to receive and process the infrared data. The team is also under a follow-on production contract to deliver additional HEO payloads, the third and fourth GEO satellites, and associated ground modifications.