ITT Exelis (NYSE: XLS) has been awarded a $13 million U.S. Air Force contract to study design modifications and to develop a final concept for an affordable, low-risk weather imaging sensor.
The Space and Missile Systems Center, El Segundo, Calif., awarded the contract to Exelis in support of the Weather Satellite Follow-On Program. The one-year study will solidify the design for the imaging sensor and ensure the instrument can be flown on multiple satellite platforms providing maximum flexibility for the Air Force in planning its next-generation program.
With more channels, upgraded electronics, and at a much lower cost than current imaging sensors, the Exelis electro-optical/infrared environmental sensor will provide an increase in capabilities above existing defense weather satellite sensors.
"Our sensor design will provide the Air Force and the warfighter with better weather information, especially regarding clouds, which is critical to mission planning," said Eric Webster, ITT Exelis vice president of Weather Systems. "Our goal is to do it at a much more affordable price and at a much lower risk than normal satellite procurements. At the end of the study, we will have a definitive cost and schedule to build the flight hardware."
Exelis has built more than 60 meteorological payloads for the U.S. government and international customers during the past 40 years. In September, Exelis's 17th Advanced Very High Resolution Radar (AVHRR) reached orbit as part of Europe's latest Meteorological Operational Satellite program. It is part of a suite of 11 sensors that offers improved sensing capabilities to meteorologists and climatologists around the world providing unprecedented accuracy and resolution. Exelis's Advanced Baseline Imager is the primary instrument on GOES-R for imaging Earth's weather, climate and environment.
"We are leveraging this experience and our legacy instruments to keep costs down, schedules short and confidence high," Webster said. A September 2012 Congressional Budget Office paper examined three satellite design concepts the Department of Defense might consider. The CBO concluded two of the options featuring Exelis's AVHRR would be significantly less costly than a third option most similar to the satellite the DOD was planning prior to the cancelled Defense Weather Satellite System program.
About ITT Exelis
ITT Exelis is a diversified, top-tier global aerospace, defense and information solutions company with strong positions in enduring and emerging global markets. Exelis is a leader in networked communications, sensing and surveillance, electronic warfare, navigation, air traffic solutions and information systems with growing positions in cyber security, composite aerostructures, logistics and technical services. The company has a 50-year legacy of innovation and technology expertise, partnering with customers worldwide to deliver affordable, mission-critical products and services for managing global threats, conflicts and complexities. Headquartered in McLean, Va., the company employs about 20,500 people and generated 2011 sales of $5.8 billion. www.exelisinc.com