FY97 DOT&E Annual Report


Air Force ACAT ID Program
30+ (TBD) satellites
3 versions w/ 3 orbits:
Geosynchronous orbit (GEO)
Low earth orbit (LEO)
Highly elliptical orbit (HEO)
Total program cost (TY$) $7613M
(excludes low component procurement)
Average unit cost (TY$) Varies w/
First satellite delivery FY02 (GEO)
FY03 (HEO)
FY04 (LEO)

Prime Contractor


Spaced-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) will replace the current Defense Support Program (DSP) and will be a consolidated, cost-effective, flexible system designed to meet U.S. infrared (IR) space-based surveillance and warning needs through the next two to three decades. By increasing the quality and timeliness of missile warning data over DSP, SBIRS enhances information superiority and supports the operational concept of full-dimensional protection by providing this data directly to theater commanders in a timely, survivable manner, to enable our forces to react immediately to the threat.

The SBIRS space segment includes a high and a low component. The high component comprises six satellites: four in geosynchronous (GEO) earth orbit and two hosted payloads in highly elliptical orbit (HEO). The low component includes approximately 24 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.

The SBIRS ground segment includes a Continental U.S. (CONUS)-based Mission Control Station (MCS), a MCS backup (MCSB), a survivable MCS (SMCS), overseas relay ground stations, Multi-Mission Mobile Processors (M3P), and associated communications links.

SBIRS supports four missions: (1) Missile Defense, (2) Missile Warning, (3) Technical Intelligence, and (4) Battlespace Characterization. The SBIRS high component will meet a subset of the operational requirements, including all key threshold requirements. The SBIRS low component will provide a unique, precision, midcourse-tracking capability critical for effective ballistic-missile defense, as well as for enhanced capability to support the other missions. The SBIRS low component will enable the system to meet all of its operational requirements.

The SBIRS ground segment will be delivered incrementally. The first increment, scheduled to be operational in FY99, consolidates Defense Support Program and Attack and Launch Early Reporting to Theater ground stations into a single CONUS ground station and will operate with DSP satellite data. The second increment, scheduled for FY02, will provide the ground segment functions necessary for the new high-altitude SBIRS satellites as well as for residual DSP satellites. Included in the second increment will be mobile terminals to fulfill the Army Joint Tactical Ground Station in-theater and SBIRS strategic processing requirements. A third increment, which will be operational in FY03, will add the ground segment functions necessary for the first LEO satellite when it is deployed in FY04.


SBIRS was initiated in 1995 as a replacement for the Follow-on Early Warning System acquisition, which was canceled due to cost and requirements problems. Since SBIRS needs to be fielded before DSP satellites are depleted, it was placed on an accelerated schedule and selected as a lead program for acquisition reform. Much of the traditional required documentation was reduced or consolidated into a Single Acquisition Management Plan and emphasis was placed on direct involvement through Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) rather than traditional documentation reviews.

The SBIRS high component entered the engineering and manufacturing development phase following a Milestone II DAB review in October 1996. This decision was supported by an OA conducted by AFOTEC and reviewed by DOT&E.

IOT&E will not be conducted until the 1999 Increment 1 ground station consolidation. Nonetheless, due to the criticality of SBIRS to national needs and in support of acquisition streamlining, DOT&E has become involved early in this program. DOT&E works closely with AFOTEC, the program office, and the user to ensure that the acquisition strategy fosters an operationally effective and suitable system while maintaining cost effectiveness. DOT&E has supported SBIRS acquisition reform through heavy involvement in IPTs, early involvement in combined developmental and operational tests, and consolidation of developmental and operational test plans into a single Integrated T&E Plan.

The SBIRS test program includes a combination of OAs, combined testing, and dedicated IOT&E. These OT&E events will progress in a building-block manner beginning with analyses, modeling, and validated simulation and ending with hardware-in-the-loop (HWIL) testbeds and field tests. Modeling, simulation, and testbeds will be used to assess those areas in which field testing cannot be conducted, such as actual missile attacks and operation in nuclear environments. SBIRS operational effectiveness and suitability will be assessed on the basis of IOT&Es of each of the three major increments, which will include fixed and mobile assets.


In 1997, DOT&E supported the development of a TEMP to define the top-level test strategy and map it into the overall acquisition strategy. DOT&E focused its efforts on four areas: (1) development of operational scenarios, (2) HWIL testbed definition, (3) simulation design, and (4) phenomenology data collection.

Intelligence-validated operational scenarios for the strategic and tactical missile warning missions were defined to match the expected proliferation of threat ballistic missiles throughout the system's 20 year operation. The scenarios are used to test the system's with the increased capabilities added by ground system consolidation, launch of SBIRS High satellites, and deployment of the SBIRS Low constellation. Required HWIL testbed capability to support OT&E was identified to include the need to portray dynamic backgrounds that faithfully represent the earth background as seen from space. Simulation topics of interest included analyses of the size and scope of the simulation effort needed to assess system effectiveness. Phenomenology efforts involved support and direct sponsorship of space- and ground-based phenomenology experiments to collect background data from which to validate testbeds.


The major near-term challenge for the SBIRS program is to ensure a seamless consolidation and replacement of the stand-alone DSP ground stations with the SBIRS Increment 1 MCS in FY99. This demanding task is complicated by the compressed timeline and issues associated with shared use facilities at the overseas relay ground stations.

Other challenges for the SBIRS program are adequacy of testbed design, and the scope of models and simulations needed to validate the stressing requirements for the SBIRS High satellites and Increment 2 of the MCS; and the significant technical risks associated with the accelerated deployment of the low component by FY04. The demanding SBIRS High requirements are a significant improvement over DSP's demonstrated performance, and require extensive testing to assure the system's performance. Continuing significant technical problems with the SBIRS Low PDRR satellites demonstrate the wisdom of an extensive test phase before starting to build the operational SBIRS Low satellites, and the current schedule of events is very compressed. The SBIRS low compressed schedule requires successful completion of many critical activities proceeding in parallel for a successful FY04 first launch. Any additional problems require start of EMD prior to successful completion of PDRR to achieve the goal of FY04 first launch.