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Space Based Infrared System - Low
Space and Missile Tracking System
Brilliant Eyes


The Space and Missile Tracking System, also known as Brilliant Eyes, is currently in the demonstration and validation phase. The system will consist of a constellation of small, low-cost lightweight, low-altitude satellites. The key role of Brilliant Eyes is to support Theater Missile Defense by providing the capability for world-wide tracking of ballistic missiles in flight from launch to re-entry. Brilliant Eyes will provide precise and timely launch point estimates to enable prompt counterstrikes against missile launchers. It will cue ground-based radars to acquire incoming missiles or warheads. Brilliant Eyes will then assess the status of these targets. During peacetime, Brilliant Eyes monitors ballistic missile tests worldwide by collecting threat development, deployment, signature and trajectory data. This allows defenses to maintain and optimize their effectiveness as new threats appear.

In addition, Brilliant Eyes provides more data for accurate impact point and time predictions than existing systems, greatly reducing the number of units that it takes for operating inhibiting countermeasures. Brilliant Eyes satellites will also be used for surveillance of objects in space, helping to prevent collisions between satellites, spacecraft and space debris. Brilliant Eyes is currently in the demonstration and validation phase.

SMTS is the low earth orbit component of the SBIRS architecture. Its unique capability to track missiles throughout their trajectory - not just during the "hot" boost phase - allows the system to effectively cue missile defense systems with accurate targeting data. It is particularly useful to National Missile Defense and against the longest range theater missile threats. SMTS also has the potential to address other SBIRS requirements, such as Technical Intelligence and Battlespace Characterization. A SMTS constellation optimized for national missile defense would consist of 21 satellites in three orbit planes. One optimized for all four SBIRS missions would contain at least 28 satellites in four orbit planes.

According to prime contractor TRW:

Working in pairs for stereoscopic viewing, the satellites develop precise location, velocity and acceleration data on the missile warhead and associated debris or decoys.

The currently planned interceptors can engage threats at ranges beyond the capabilities of their associated radars. Using data generated by SMTS, these interceptors can use that excess capability to negate attacking missiles far from friendly forces and population centers. Early intercepts allow SMTS to assess the attacking missile's status so that additional interceptors are launched only if needed. This shoot-look-shoot option reduces interceptor inventory requirements. Early intercepts made possible by SMTS extend the boundaries of the defended area some three to five times.

SMTS can precisely cue ground radars; allowing them to limit operations until a hostile missile is within their range. This reduces the threat from homing anti-radiation missiles -- likely players on modern battlefields.

The constellation provides global surveillance for ballistic missile launches within seconds. Early detection allows for precise launch point determination, enabling theater forces to destroy the launcher before more missiles can be fired.

SMTS The initial baseline SMTS program planned a deployment decision in 2000, with a first launch in 2006. Acceleration of the SMTS deployment to the year 2002 in response to Congressional interest to support an early National Missile Defense capability, would have forced the FDS to be down-scoped to emphasize NMD only, not a system fully capable of performing all the IR missions. Congress mandated an accelerated SBIRS Low program deployment and the Department of Defense and the USAF committed to beginning this deployment in FY04. The SBIRS Low program provides the LEO satellite constellation for precision midcourse tracking capability critical for effective Ballistic Missile Defense. SBIRS Low will also improve capabilities for missile warning, technical intelligence, and battlespace characterization by complementing the performance of SBIRS Increment 2. Full constellation deployment is expected by mid-FY07 with mid-FY08 deployment completion.

On 16 August 1999 TRW Space and Electronics Group, Redondo Beach, Calif., and Spectrum Astro, Inc., Gilbert, Ariz., were each awarded a $275,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract to provide for the Program Definition and Risk reduction phase of the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Low Component. This phase will result in preliminary system designs which can be used to develop, manufacture, deliver, operate, and sustain the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) component of the SBIRS System-of-Systems (SoS) architecture and perform extensive risk reduction and ground demonstration efforts. The SBIRS mission is to develop, deploy, and sustain space-based surveillance systems for missile warning, missile defense, battlespace characterization, and technical intelligence. Expected contract completion date is October 2002.

The SBIRS Low program will be developed as part of the SBIRS SoS architecture. The acquisition of this architecture is proceeding in four increments as is described in the SBIRS Single Acquisition and Management Plan (SAMP). Increment 1 consists of the consolidation of the Defense Support Program (DSP), Attack Launch Early Report to Theater (ALERT), and Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) ground operations. Increment 2 refers to the actual deployment of the SBIRS High Block I. Increment 3 will add the SBIRS Low capabilities to the SoS architecture. Full constellation deployment is expected by FY08. In Increment 4, the SBIRS High/Low system will be updated as driven by the evolving environment to provide best value to the government.

The baseline SBIRS architecture includes satellites in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and sensors hosted on satellites in Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO). Ground assets include: a Continental United States (CONUS)-based Mission Control Station (MCS), a backup MCS (MCSB), a survivable MCS (SMCS), overseas Relay Ground Stations (RGSs), a survivable RGS (SRGS) and Multi-Mission Mobile Processors (M3Ps) with associated infrastructure; and training, launch and support infrastructures. The SBIRS Low Component for Increment 3 provides the LEO satellite constellation for precision midcourse tracking capability critical for effective Ballistic Missile Defense. SBIRS Low Component for Increment 3 will also improve capabilities for missile warning, technical intelligence, and battlespace characterization by complementing the performance of SBIRS Increment 2. The SBIRS Low Component for Increment 3 includes provisions to incorporate associated ground elements to provide any unique command, control, data processing, and external interface capability to the entire SBIRS ground segment. The JSC has conducted a risk assessment on SBIRS Low uplink and downlink frequencies for use of 20/44 GHz frequency bands at four grounds station locations.

The SBIRS System of Systems (SoS) contractor will have total system performance responsibility (TSPR) for SBIRS Increment 3 performance against ORD requirements. The SBIR High contractor has total responsibility for the SBIRS high system specification for Increment 1 and 2. The SIBRS Low contractor has total responsibility for low system specification for Increment 3. Under Contract Number F04701-95-C-0017, the SBIRS High EMD contract, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Company (LMMS) has certain System of Systems (SoS) responsibilities which have some impact on the SBIRS Low Component competition, and will have access to certain proprietary data provided by the SBIRS Low Component competitors. As a part of the SBIRS High EMD contract, the Government and LMMS have agreed to a clause entitled "Avoidance of Organizational Conflict of Interest (OCI) Regarding the SBIRS Low Component Program Competition" (hereinafter the SBIRS High clause). Among other things in the clause, LMMS has agreed to provide all SBIRS Low Component competitors equal access to certain data, as defined in the SBIRS High clause and its implementing plan, and to not use any proprietary data except as permitted in the SBIRS High clause.

The SBIRS Low program is currently in Phase I, Program Definition and Risk Reduction, of the acquisition development cycle — sometimes referred to as the Demonstration and Validation phase. Two contractor teams are producing “proof of concept” demonstration satellites scheduled to be launched in FY 1999.

The first of these two designs is called the Flight Demonstration System (FDS) and will consist of two satellites launched on a Delta II 7420 booster. The prime contractor for the FDS is TRW, Inc. with Ratheon Systems producing the infrared payload.

The second of the two designs is called the Low Altitude Demonstration System (LADS) and will consist of one satellite launched from a Lockheed Martin Launch Vehicle and supplemented by a ground demonstration payload. The prime contractor for the LADS effort is Boeing North American with Lockheed Martin providing the spacecraft bus and launch vehicle.

Once on orbit, these two systems will perform tests and experiments to validate the proof of concept for each design and provide data necessary to support a deployment decision milestone in the year 2000.

Parallel to the Phase I effort, preliminary effort is underway to prepare for Phase II, Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD), that will officially begin in 2001. The Government intends to award the EMD phase contract through a rolling downselect procedure, but reserves the right to make no EMD contract award at all. The rolling downselect will be culminated by a Call For Improvements (CFI) approximately 20 months after PD contract award. CFI responses will be required approximately 22 months after PD contract award. The CFI will solicit competitive proposals for EMD. Unrealistically low proposed prices, initially or subsequently, may be grounds for eliminating a proposal from competition either on the basis that the offeror does not understand the requirement or the offeror has made an unrealistic proposal. After evaluating these proposals, the Government will select the EMD contractor and award two EMD contracts: a cost plus award fee contract for the RDT&E effort and a fixed price-type contract for the Production effort. The EMD phase will utilize data obtained from the Phase I demonstration systems and consist of a full and open competition between contractors that will culminate in early 2001 with the selection of a single contractor to develop the fully operational SBIRS Low system with a projected first launch in late 2004.

Constellation		12-24 satellites in multiple rings at low altitude

Satellites		<1500 lbs each

Launch Vehicle		Delta 7920 (up to 4 satellites per launch)

Payload			Wide field-of-view acquisition sensor (SWIR)
			Narrow field-of-view tracking sensor
			(MWIR,MLWIR, LWIR and visible)

Communications		60 GHz between satellites
			44/20 GHz to ground
			S-band to satellite control network

Electrical Power	1.5 kW silicon solar arrays
			40 amp-hr. nickel-hydrogen battery

Lifetime		>10 years

Availability		>99%


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Originally created by John Pike
Updated Tuesday, August 31, 1999 9:53:05 AM