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Air Force Featured Stories

New SBIRS Block 10 Ground System achieves operational acceptance

  • Published
  • By Los Angeles Air Force Base Public Affairs
Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center and the 460th Space Wing successfully achieved operational acceptance of the Space-Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS) Block 10 ground system Dec. 2.

The new ground system consolidates legacy Defense Support Program, SBIRS Highly Elliptical Orbit, and SBIRS Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite ground systems from three locations into one primary location and a backup. The consolidation provides a significant reduction in manpower requirements, allows for improvements in mission processing capabilities, and significantly increases performance capability across the four SBIRS mission areas of missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness and technical intelligence.

The primary location of the consolidated ground system is the Mission Control Station at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. The backup system, known as the Mission Control Station Backup is located at Schriever AFB, Colorado. Both stations are manned by operators from the 460th SW.

“In the past 45 years, we have built a reputation of operating the most capable infrared missile warning system in the world,” said Col. David Miller Jr., the 460th SW commander. “With the consolidation of three infrared satellite constellations into a single operations center, we expect to see substantial improvements in our warning, surveillance and battlespace awareness support to combatant commanders across the globe and I couldn’t be prouder of the SMC and 460th SW team that helped get us here.”

The consolidated SBIRS Block 10 ground system has numerous advantages over the three legacy ground systems it has replaced. By releasing event messages quicker, reducing event error to include starer sensor data, and consolidating processing of all sensor types at a single facility, it advances capabilities in all four SBIRS mission areas.

“Providing persistent global surveillance for the U.S. and our allies is our business and there is simply no one better at what we do,” Miller said. “Our Airmen look forward to exploiting this capability to the maximum extent possible to ensure we maintain that competitive advantage well into the future.”

SBIRS Block 10 also improves cueing data for missile defense systems and allows for command, control, and mission planning of taskable sensors, as well as real-time and offline raw sensor data processing for technical intelligence used by the intelligence community.

"In addition to the considerable advantages of this new ground system is the fact that it provides new sensor capabilities of the GEO Starer to the warfighter," said Col. Shannon Begeman, a SBIRS Ground senior materiel leader. "This speaks to years of tireless work that our combined military, civilian, and contractor teams have accomplished, and it has been an incredible privilege to be part of the SBIRS Ground team as we achieve operational acceptance."

The Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center manages the SBIRS Block 10 development program. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Azusa, California, is the payload integrator. The 460th SW operates the SBIRS system.

“The Block 10 ground system can be considered a living system, and will be continually improved through additional cyber-security measures as well as hardware and software upgrades.” added Brig. Gen Guetlein, the Remote Sensing Systems director. “The success of this fully consolidated SBIRS ground system is due in large part to the dedicated efforts of the development, test, and operational communities, and I am very proud of what our people, past and present, have done.”

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.