Trade visitors stand in front of a Raytheon booth during the Singapore Air Show on Feb. 11. (Roslan Rahman / AFP)
WASHINGTON — Raytheon has declined to protest the Air Force’s decision to award the lucrative Space Fence contract to its competitor Lockheed Martin, a Raytheon spokesman said in a statement released late Monday.
“Raytheon put forward the most affordable, lowest-risk solution which drew heavily on the company’s experience as the world leader in building large-phased array radars in austere parts of the world,” the company spokesman said, “but after reviewing the results of the debrief, we believe not protesting the Space Fence decision is the right thing to do for the Air Force, the Warfighter, and Raytheon.”
That decision means Lockheed has officially locked in the right to head the Space Fence program, which has been described as the backbone of the Pentagon’s space situational awareness capabilities for the future.
The contract, worth almost $1 billion and with potential to grow, was awarded to Lockheed on June 2.
Space Fence consists of a large S-band radar on the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean. With the Earth’s rotation, the stationary radar creates a “fence” through which everything in space should pass through over the course of 24 hours. That will provide a key capability for the Pentagon, said Air Force space command head Gen. William Shelton.
“Currently, we track more than 23,000 objects in space,” Shelton said in May. “However, our sensors cannot see the estimated 500,000 pieces of debris between 1 and 10 centimeters in size. We’ve learned some lessons the hard way with orbital collisions and this increased traffic in space is causing collision-avoidance maneuvers at a pace we’ve never before experienced. After five decades of relatively benign operations, space is becoming an increasingly challenging place to operate.”