Northrop Grumman [NOC] is targeting next March to select a payload provider for the company’s effort to build two satellites for missile warning under Block O of the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) program.

In May last year, U.S. Space Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $2.3 billion contract for early hardware procurement for the two Next-Gen Polar (NGP) satellites, which are to complement the missile warning to be provided by three Block 0 Next-Gen OPIR Geosynchronous (NGG) satellites built by Lockheed Martin [LMT].

A Northrop Grumman-Ball Aerospace [BLL] team is competing against Raytheon Technologies [RTX] for the NGG and NGP payloads. The Next-Gen OPIR constellation is to provide better missile warning than the existing Lockheed Martin Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS).

“In the context of NGP, we are working toward a mission payload SDR (system design review) in the December time frame, which will include an extensibility review that talks to the commonality and extensibility between the GEO and polar satellites, and we plan to downselect to a single provider in March next year,” Sarah Willoughby, vice president and program manager for Next-Generation OPIR, told a company-held briefing at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

NGG and NGP “are designed to highly leverage reuse and have commonality” in their sensor payloads. While NGG has an equatorial view for missile warning, NGP is to have a top-down Arctic view.

“We are leveraging the design activities that are going on right now on NGG with the plans to make modifications as required to be hosted on a Northrop Grumman bus and to work in our specific HEO orbit and the dynamic environment that goes along with that,” Willoughby said.

In November, Lockheed Martin said that it had completed a preliminary design review (PDR) on the Block 0 GEO satellites for NGG. (Defense Daily, Nov. 10, 2020)

Lockheed Martin won the non-competitive, sole-source contract worth $2.9 billion to develop the three Next-Gen OPIR geosynchronous satellites in August 2018 a follow-on $4.9 billion contract in January.