Northrop Grumman Corporation recently completed the critical design review of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) prototype for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA). The review establishes the company’s technical approach for precise, timely sensor coverage to defeat ballistic and hypersonic missiles. HBTSS satellites will provide continuous tracking and handoff to enable targeting of enemy missiles launched from land, sea or air. They are a critical part of the Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) multi-layered constellation of satellites, which can sense heat signatures to detect and track missiles from their earliest stages of launch through interception.
HBTSS satellites are also designed to track threats with near global reach when prompted by other OPIR systems, well before they come into view of U.S. ground-based defenses. Northrop Grumman received a $153 million contract from the MDA earlier this year for the Phase IIB portion of the HBTSS program and is on schedule to deliver the HBTSS prototype in 2023. After the HBTSS prototype is delivered, the company will conduct an on-orbit test to demonstrate its ability to continuously track and rapidly process its observations of hypersonic threats, as well as its ability to effectively hand off the information so the missile is intercepted.
“When it comes to national safety, there’s no room for error,” said Sarah Willoughby, vice president, OPIR and geospatial systems, Northrop Grumman. “This critical design review puts Northrop Grumman on track to deliver a vital component of our missile defense architecture to keep the U.S. and its allies safe against hypersonic threats.”
Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American multinational aerospace and defense technology company. With 90,000 employees and an annual revenue in excess of $30 billion, it is one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers and military technology providers. The firm ranks No. 96 on the 2020 Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations. Northrop Grumman and its industry partners have won the Collier Trophy eight times, most recently for developing the X-47B, the first unmanned, autonomous air system to operate from an aircraft carrier. Northrop Grumman currently leads the development of the B-21 Raider, a long-range, stealth strategic bomber that can drop conventional and nuclear weapons; it will replace Northrop’s own B-2 Spirit, the world’s only known stealth bomber. It was the sole bidder on the Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, which aims to develop and build a new intercontinental ballistic missile.