WASHINGTON — Harris Corp.’s Space and Intelligence Systems division won a total of $184 million in classified U.S. government contracts for unspecified space superiority activities and advanced sensors during the first quarter of its 2016 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the company said last week.

Much of that money will go toward Harris programs that focus on space situational awareness, said Chris Forseth, vice president and general manager of Harris’ space superiority business sector. That business unit is generally responsible for offensive and defensive space control, and space situational awareness capabilities.

Because the contracts are classified, Forseth and other Harris executives declined to offer more details.

“With the pivot to Asia, space superiority and protection has become a U.S. defense priority and recent reports suggest spending in this area could reach $8 billion over the next five years,” William Brown, Harris president and chief executive, said during a Nov. 3 earnings call.

A slide from Harris Corp's Nov. 3 investor presentation.
A slide from Harris Corp’s Nov. 3 investor presentation.
A slide from Harris Corp’s Nov. 3 investor presentation.

The Air Force has made improving its space situational awareness capabilities a top priority as Defense Department satellites face emerging threats from China and Russia. Those threats are the impetus behind White House plans to invest $5.5 billion to $8 billion in various space protection activities over the next five years.

Harris has looked to take advantage by making large internal research and development investments in this area, Forseth said in an interview. The company has also significantly bolstered its presence in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which is home to Air Force Space Command.

Harris reorganized its business at the beginning of its 2016 fiscal year following its acquisition of Exelis Corp., consolidating most of the space-related activities into the Space and Intelligence Systems division. The division reported net income of $68 million on revenue of $435 million during the quarter, Harris said.

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.