The U.S. Air Force is paying more than planned for two new Lockheed Martin missile warning satellites, but the additional spending is less than had been projected, Reuters quoted the head of service's Space Command as saying on Thursday.
The Space-Based Infrared System is intended to provide early identification of battlefield and strategic missile threats, among other capabilities.
The Defense Department had estimated that the system's No. 3 and No. 4 orbiters would exceed spending plans by $438 million.
"The signs are positive right now that the reported cost overrun is not going to be near as significant," according to Gen. William Shelton. "But we're not out of the woods yet because we've had some challenges with subvendors."
Troubles such as a damaged "harness" have contributed to the additional expense, Shelton said.
The Air Force is using various measures to rein in spending and schedule troubles experienced over the last 10 years in constructing and deploying satellites, according to the general. It generally now aims to deploy distinct missile warning satellites to carry out select assignments instead of putting a "bus" with more comprehensive capabilities into space, Shelton said.
Lockheed Martin this week said the SBIRS second Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite was scheduled to be launched in March from Cape Canaveral in Florida.