Sandra Erwin, for SpaceNews:
Two years ago the Air Force selected Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin as the prime contractors for the program known as Next-Gen OPIR. Lockheed Martin has received more than $3 billion in sole-source contracts to develop and produce three geosynchronous orbit satellites. Northrop Grumman got a $47 million contract in August 2018 to begin designing the polar satellites. This latest award funds the development of two satellites and early procurement of hardware. Another contract for production and integration will follow in 2022.
Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, said the contract award to Northrop Grumman was accelerated in an effort to inject cashflow into the defense industrial base.
Roper has been the chair of the Space Acquisition Council, which has been trying to find ways to get funding out into the industry during the pandemic to help contractors of all sizes. They’ve moved much slower than I would have expected when hearing about the Council in the early days, but seems like the news will start flowing now.
Starting with what is essentially advancing funds that were already planned is nice, but I’m expecting to see some splashier funding setups soon enough.