Space Force aims to launch 1st ‘Foo Fighter’ satellites in 2027 to track hypersonic threats

An illustration of satellites tracking various types of missiles, including a hypersonic glide vehicle. (Image credit: Space Development Agency)

By Brett Tingley,
Published by, 13 May 2024

The FOO Fighter satellites will add to the Space Force’s growing fleet of missile-tracking spacecraft.

The United States Space Force has ordered the first satellites for an upcoming advanced missile defense constellation.

The Space Development Agency (SDA), an agency within the U.S. Space Force tasked with developing new, disruptive space technologies, awarded $414 million to California-based Millennium Space Systems, Inc. to build eight satellites for its upcoming Fire-control On Orbit-support-to-the-war Fighter program, also known as F2 or FOO Fighter.

The satellites will be tasked with detecting, providing warning and tracking of what SDA refers to as “advanced missile threats,” which include hypersonic missiles that can travel at velocities between five and 25 times the speed of sound. SDA hopes to launch the satellites in the first quarter of 2027, according to an agency statement.

Details about the FOO Fighter program are scarce, but SDA previously stated in a contract opportunity that it will “provide fire-control in support.” Generally, fire-control refers to systems that combine technologies such as radar or infrared sensors with targeting computers and ranged weapons such as missile interceptors. Fire-control systems help ‘point’ defenses in the right direction, linking multiple systems together so that countermeasures can be directed at threats.

In the agency’s statement announcing the award, SDA director Derek Tournear said the FOO Fighter satellites will add to the agency’s growing fleet of missile tracking spacecraft known as the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, or PWSA, already being launched in small batches known as tranches.

“The FOO Fighter program will provide an operational demonstration of fire control efforts separate from, but complementary to, our missile warning/missile tracking and missile defense efforts already underway in the tranches,” Tournear said. “We look forward to working with Millennium, a new teammate in the expanding marketplace of performers innovating to deliver the PWSA for the warfighter.”

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