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New Overhead Persistent Infrared Battlespace Awareness Center Begins Operations


Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center and the 460th Space Wing announced Initial Operational Capability for the Space Based Infrared System Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Battlespace Awareness Center (OBA) on Sept. 12.


Located within the SBIRS Mission Control Station on Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, the OBAC offers an open framework environment capable of hosting specific applications responsive to operator needs.  The applications will be developed, tested and evaluated at the Tools, Applications, and Processing (TAP) Lab in Boulder, Colorado, before will become eligible to be added to the OBAC processing suite.  The close coupling of the TAP Lab with an identical open framework at the OBAC, to be installed this fall, will allow the 460SW and SMC team to quickly respond to emerging threats and end user needs.

“We are extremely thankful that the additional SMC resources will help realize our vision for Battlespace Awareness and Persistent Global Surveillance,” said Col. David Miller, Jr., 460th Space Wing commander. “Our operators are truly excited about the promise of the OBAC. In just a few months of operation, this multi-organizational center has already improved our missile warning mission and led to advances in surveillance and battlespace awareness operations in support of combatant commanders.”


The success of the OBAC is predicated on the unique collaboration between its two operational cells. The Space Operations cell is manned by Air Force Space Command crew members and the Intelligence Processing, Analysis, and Disseminations cell is manned by Air Combat Command crew members.   This cooperation enables the utilization of OPIR data and delivery of support products within minutes of an infrared event. 


The OBAC and the new TAP Lab will also leverage existing applications and development efforts from other Department of Defense and intelligence community partners. 


“We are very excited that the OBAC is up and running.  Together with the recent stand up of the TAP Lab, the OBAC will ensure innovation and facilitate a rapid transition of tools and applications from development to operations,” said Brig. Gen. Mike Guetlein, SMC’s Remote Sensing Systems director.  “Using these tools, the OBAC will enable our troops to collaborate with analysts world-wide and share actionable information with theater commanders in near real-time.”


The Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center manages the SBIRS program. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, California, is the payload integrator. The 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colorado, operates the SBIRS system. The SBIRS program delivers timely, reliable and accurate missile-warning and infrared surveillance information to the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, combatant commanders, the intelligence community and other key decision makers. The system enhances global missile launch detection capability, supports the nation’s ballistic missile defense system, expands the country’s technical intelligence gathering capacity and bolsters situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.