Defense Support Program satellite. Credit: U.S. Air Force artist's concept

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force plans to award Northrop Grumman a sole-source contract worth as much as $45 million to support the service’s legacy missile warning program, according to an April 29 posting to the Federal Business Opportunities website.

Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems of Linthicum, Maryland, would provide data analysis, mission assessment and program support for the Defense Support Program system beginning in April 2015, the Air Force said. The six-month contract would include four one-year options and could run through Sept. 30, 2019.

However, the Air Force warned that the size of the DSP constellation “may decrease” during that period and would require less in the way of Northrop Grumman support should that happen.

The exact size of the U.S. missile warning constellation, which includes DSP and two satellites from the follow on Space Based Infrared System, is classified. The last of the DSP satellites was launched in 2007.

The Air Force said in a justification and approval document that it believes Northrop Grumman was the only company with the capability to support the program. In a worst-case-scenario estimate, the Air Force said it would take $76 million and two years to prepare another company to handle the contract.


Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.