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US Navy, Space Force ISR projects clear critical milestones

A rendering of the RGS-A being developed for US NIWC Pacific. (Northrop Grumman )

A pair of advanced space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) projects spearheaded by the US Navy (USN) and the US Space Force (USSF) have cleared critical development milestones, paving the way for further development.

The Northrop Grumman-built variant of the navy's Relay Ground Station-Asia (RGS-A) antenna secured preliminary design review (PDR) certification, company officials said in a 1 June statement. The PDR decision will allow service leaders to move forward with plans to build and deploy six RGS-As in the Indo-Pacific region.

Once fully mature, the RGS-A antennas will meet operational requirements for early warning missile defence at Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (NIWC Pacific), according to navy documents.

As designed, the navy plans to integrate the RGS-A into ground station elements supporting the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) network at geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO). From the six proposed RGS-A locations in Guam, officials at NWIC Pacific will be able to provide “uplink and downlink capability to the Legacy SBIRS GEO… Next Gen GEO, and Next Generation Polar space vehicles”, service officials wrote in the initial RGS-A solicitation in October 2021.

The USSF set aside USD67.7 million for additional procurement towards development of the six RGS-A systems and associated infrastructure for the radar site locations in Guam, according to its fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget proposal.

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