Raytheon to help US Air Force update missile warning system

Raytheon updates missile warning system
Raytheon's upgraded missile warning architecture for the US Air Force collects and fuses data from various sensors to provide a complete picture of launch activity. (Raytheon)

Raytheon Company will help the US Air Force upgrade its missile warning system with one that collects and fuses data from an array of sensors to provide a complete picture of launch activity, under a 5-year, $197 million contract.

To help with this mission, Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services has developed a completely open framework—which the Air Force calls the Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution (FORGE) Mission Data Processing Application Framework (MDPAF)—that will be can process Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) satellite data from both the US Air Force's evolving Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) constellation and the future Next Gen OPIR constellation, as well as be capable of processing data from other civil and environmental sensors.

"The US government's global satellite network produces a constant flood of data—petabytes and petabytes of it every day," said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon IIS, in a statement. "The Air Force wants to open that network up so they can use as much of that data as possible. That's a huge transformation not just for the service, but for the whole government."

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The new system differs from previous satellite ground control programs. Previously, companies would develop a system that collects and exploits data from specific types of satellites or sensors. FORGE, on the other hand, is able to collect data from nearly any type of satellite or sensor, and then helps operators make sense of that data quickly.

"Essentially, this is a smartphone model," noted Wajsgras. "We've built an operating system that everyone can build applications for—from Raytheon to the Air Force to universities to small companies. These applications allow the system to process specific types of data."

One benefit of incorporating new applications is that the system can be used beyond its intended mission. For example, an application could be built that would allow civil agencies to use the same satellite data to help detect forest fires, volcanic activity, agricultural changes, even surges in electric power consumption.

To design the new system, Raytheon leveraged development work on several past programs, especially its Advanced Weather Integrated Processing System, to design the framework. Raytheon also incorporated its deep experience developing applications using DevSecOps and Agile software development processes to speed development.