The U.S. Air Force contracted with an industry joint venture on February 08, 1999 for the Space Based Laser Integrated Flight Experiment (SBL IFX). The award constitutes the first increment of a Cost Plus Award Fee/Cost Plus Fixed Fee contract valued at approximately $2-3 billion once completed. The first increment, representing approximately $125M in funding, initiates tasks to be conducted in the first 18-24 months of the effort and immediately undertakes baseline development activities, as well as an affordability and architecture study.

The joint venture titled "Team SBL IFX" was formed on February 08, 1999, by LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION, acting through Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space in Sunnyvale California, THE BOEING COMPANY, acting through its Canoga Park California offices and TRW INC., acting through its Space and Electronics Group in El Segundo California.

The SBL IFX program is executed by the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) in Los Angeles California for the Ballistic Missile Defense Office. The program is jointly funded by the U.S. Air Force and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. The program’s objective is to conduct a research effort to advance and assess the feasibility of the Space Based Laser (SBL) concept and its technologies, culminating in an SBL ballistic missile defense (BMD) demonstration in space, as well as an assessment of non-BMD mission utility.

The SBL IFX program will include ground, flight, and space experiments as needed to verify technologies at the component and subsystem level to support design activities for the building of a SBL IFX flight vehicle. This sub-scale flight vehicle will serve as a space test bed for the technologies. More importantly, it provides a focal point for resolving the integration challenges embodied in creating a system that unites precision optics and high energy lasers onto a lightweight spacecraft. Thorough end-to-end ground testing of the vehicle will be conducted prior to flight to create a data base for analyzing on-orbit performance.

If the SBL IFX effort proves successful, the Department of Defense will assess the cost and utility of an operational system, as well as the threat predictions, to decide whether to actually enter the acquisition process for the development of an operational capability.

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Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC)
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