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SBIRS Production Contract: The Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.5-billion contract for the third Space Based Infrared System satellite, GEO-3, and the third SBIRS sensor payload, HEO-3, destined for a separate spacecraft. Lockheed announced the deal Tuesday. "The improved infrared event detection and reporting capabilities provided by SBIRS are integral to our nation's information and intelligence architecture and we look forward to achieving mission success on this vitally important program," said Jeff Smith, Lockheed's SBIRS vice president in the company’s release. The SBIRS constellation will augment and eventually replace Defense Support Program early warning satellites. There are two HEO payloads already on orbit, the first of which is already certified for operations. GEO-1 and GEO-2, planned for geosynchronous orbit, are undergoing ground testing. GEO-1 is slated for launch in 2010. The Air Force has requested funds in Fiscal 2010 to procure HEO-4 and buy the long-lead-time parts for GEO-4.