COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado May 21 The U.S. Air
Force on Wednesday said it is very close to choosing Lockheed
Martin Corp or Raytheon Co to build a new
ground-based radar to track satellites and other objects in
space, a deal analysts value at nearly $2 billion.
"It's imminent," Brigadier General Roger Teague, director of
strategic plans, programs and analyses for Air Force Space
Command, said in n interview after a panel session at a space
conference hosted by the Space Foundation.
U.S. military officials have underscored the importance of
the Space Fence program, given the growing number of countries
operating satellites in space and development of anti-satellite
weapons, as well as the huge amount of debris in orbit.
The new program will allow the Air Force to sharply increase
its ability to track "space junk" and other smaller objects in
space. Currently the Air Force tracks about 23,000 of an
estimated 500,000 objects in space, but the new program would
allow it to track hundreds of thousands of additional objects.
Teague said the new radar system would give the Air Force
far greater insight into what is going on in low earth orbit and
over the southern hemisphere.
Current plans call for the new system to be based on
Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, about 2,100 miles
southwest of Honolulu, and to start operating in September 2018.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio)