Archive for the ‘SBIRS’ Category

A third-generation infrared satellite system is already in the works in the USAF FY2010 budget request.

While the Senate appropriators have fully funded the effort, the House version cut the program request by about 30 percent.

An infrared demonstration payload will be launched on a commercial satellite next year, a prudent effort to show initiative in preempting some of the software and hardware challenges that have tormented SBIRS.

The Navy’s MUOS satellite system, with its recently revealed one year slip, is fully funded in the Senate’s appropriations version and will only have to reconcile less than $5M with the House version. However, about $150M of MUOS funding will be put on withhold until the Navy addresses how they will address a rapidly emerging narrowband shortfall.

Options include using ORS and the Tacsat-4 satellite. Probably more likely solutions include placing a military comm payload on a commercial satellite.

SBIRS Slip Slaps Space

Posted: October 1, 2009 in Missile warning, SBIRS

Groan.  Confirmation.

See if you can use the acronyms “SBIRS” and “GAO” with the words “trouble-plagued,” “chronic,” and “problem” in one sentence.  Bonus points if you can weave in “optimistic” and “award fee.”

Would anyone in the defense industry be willing to take on a SBIRS-like effort under a firm fixed price contract?

What Is SBIRS Point Of No Return?

Posted: September 15, 2009 in Acquisition, SBIRS

It’s been said that human beings are the only creatures capable of deceiving themselves.

If you agree with that, you may also agree to the human tendency to keep throwing good money after bad product, that is, it’s tough to know just when to cut your losses and walk away. The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program comes to mind as the poster-child for space acquisition. SBIRS is almost eight years behind schedule and $8 billion over original budget.

While its may be difficult to define “good enough” missile warning, what is clear is the government’s general desire to move away from cost-plus type contracts and to move towards fixed-price contracts. David Berteau of The Center for Strategic and International Studies (reported via Amy Butler at Aviation Week) thinks there are four elements:

• stable, detailed, and technically refined requirements

• a clear understanding of those requirements by bidders

• savvy and skilled contract-negotiation by the government

• a willingness to adjust requirements in order to meet the price

The last item is particularly telling. Basically, it states the importance of the government being willing to give up some amount of performance to meet cost.

Regarding the SBIRS debacle, it would appear in hindsight that pursuing more than one system—that is, completion—might have been developmentally useful to the government. Belatedly, introducing a new space-based missile warning program to “compete” with SBIRS appears to be the likely approach.