Aerospace and defense technology firm Northrop Grumman has received a new contract from the U.S. Space Force that's worth $2.37 billion. As part of the contract, the company will focus on building satellite-based defense weapon systems against incoming missiles.
Northrop Grumman is a Virginia-based defense contractor that was selected by the U.S. Air Force for its Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) project along with Lockheed Martin in 2018. For the project, these two companies were tasked with developing technologies for the project.
Next-Gen OPIR System
On May 18, it was confirmed that the Northrop Grumman had received a new contract from Space Force that's related to Next-Gen OPIR, SpaceNews reported. As part of the contract, the company will build two OPIR satellites designed to keeping track of incoming satellites.
The two satellites will join three other Next-Gen OPIR satellites, which will operate in a geosynchronous orbit around Earth. Acting as a satellite constellation outside Earth, the Next-Gen OPIR satellites will serve as early warning systems against ballistic or tactical missile attacks on the U.S. and its forces and allies. The Space Force is hoping to launch all five satellites sometime in 2029.
Space Force's Offensive Weapon
Northrop Grumman's latest contract signifies Space Force's effort to bolster the presence of the U.S. in the field of space warfare. In April, it was reported that the agency had unveiled its first offensive weapon system.
Known as the Counter Communications System Block 10.2., it is a ground-based system designed to target enemy satellites in orbit. According to reports, the weapons system is designed to disrupt satellites to prevent the enemy's communication capabilities.
Identifying Space-Based Threats
As noted by Space Force, the agency's offensive and defensive systems are being developed in order to protect the U.S. against space-based attacks. The agency previously confirmed that it had identified China and Russia as potential threats due to their space capabilities. In a report released in January of this year, the Defense Intelligence Agency warned that Russia and China have satellite networks that are capable of spying on the U.S. from space.
"Both states [have] jamming and cyberspace capabilities, directed energy weapons, on-orbit capabilities and ground-based anti-satellite missiles that can achieve a range of reversible to non-reversible effects," the agency stated in the report according to Newsweek.