Airbus, Raytheon Protest SDA Contract Awards to SpaceX & L3Harris

National Defense Space Architecture tracking layer. (Credit: Department of Defense)

Raytheon and Airbus US Space and Defense have filed formal protests with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) over the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) decision to award contracts worth $342.5 million to L3Harris Technologies and SpaceX to build eight missile warning satellites.

L3Harris was awarded a $193.5 million contract and SpaceX a $149 million contract to each build four overhead persistent infrared imaging, or OPIR, satellites to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

The eight satellites make up Tracking Layer Tranche 0 of the National Defense Space Architecture. The spacecraft will communicate with 28 satellites that will make up the transport layer using laser communications systems.

SpaceNews reports that Airbus filed the appeal after identifying concerns during a post-award debrief the company received from the government. Raytheon would not comment on its appeal.

Under the contracts, L3Harris and SpaceX are to deliver the tracking satellites by Sept. 30, 2022. However, SDA has issued stop work orders to the two companies until GAO rules on the appeals in February.