MDA Gives $11.1M to GD-C4 for NFIRE Launch Delay
General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc. of Gilbert, AZ received a cost-plus-award fixed-fee contract modification to equitably adjust the contract for the Government-caused delay to the Near Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE) launch delay effort. The total estimated value of the contract modification is $11.1 million. Work will be performed in Gilbert, AZ and is expected to be complete by August 2008. $3.5 million of the funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year. The Missile Defense Agency, Washington, D.C. issued the contract (HQ0006-02-C-0050).
NFIRE is composed of a low-Earth orbiting satellite with an onboard Track Sensor Payload (TSP) and TESAT Laser Communication Terminal (LCT), plus two ground-based Mission Operations Centers (MOCs). General Dynamics notes that NFIRE will gather “near field, high resolution data that will assist in development of boost phase intercept systems.” The problem is that during the boost phase, a ballistic missile’s signature comprises both the missile body itself, and the large rocket plume that “blooms” around the missile at high altitudes to create a sort of hot smoke screen. A boost-phase kill vehicle must be able to detect and hit the missile within the plume, and better understanding of ballistic missiles’ boost-phase signature will help the USA understand what it takes to create accurate ABM targeting devices. NFIRE will also assess the viability of a laser communications system for missile defense applications, a system that could have implications for projects like the T-SAT high-bandwidth communications backbone.
- US Congressional Budget Office (July 2004) – Alternatives for Boost-Phase Missile Defense. See esp. Appendix B: Kinetic Kill Vehicles for Boost-Phase Interceptors
- USAF (Aug 23/07) – Vandenberg supports successful missile defense experiment. See also GDC4 release.