The United States Space Force’s Space Development Agency (SDA) has released a draft request for a satellite network called “FOO Fighter.” The F2 program aims to detect, track, and coordinate the interception of hypersonic missiles.
The program asks for eight satellites equipped with infrared and optical sensors to detect and track advanced missile threats, including hypersonic missiles. By placing these satellites in relatively low altitudes, they can provide early warning and more time to respond to hypersonic threats.
As Space.com explains, “Fire control incorporates various technologies such as radar or other sensors, targeting computers and ranged weapons together into a cohesive system that can detect threats or targets and then direct weapons or other countermeasures at them.” While few other details are available, the SDA plans to launch the prototype FOO Fighter constellation in 2026, as stated in the contract opportunity. However, further information about the program is classified as “Top Secret.”
“The Space Development Agency (SDA) is issuing this DRAFT solicitation for the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture’s (PWSA) Fire-control On Orbit-support-to-the-war Fighter (FOO Fighter) Program. The draft solicitation provides an opportunity for industry to review and offer feedback [before] final solicitation posting,” the solicitation says.
“Foo Fighter or F2 system will accelerate the ability to provide fire-control in support of global detection, warning, and precision tracking of advanced missile threats, including hypersonic missile systems. The F2 system will demonstrate advanced missile defense capability by incorporating fire control-quality sensors into a prototype constellation. SDA plans to purchase and deploy eight (8) F2s SVs with EO/IR sensors using more than one vendor,” it adds.
The name “FOO Fighter” may or may not be a reference to the term used for Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) during World War Two. These mysterious balls of light were nicknamed “Foo Fighters” by Allied aviators. It’s also worth mentioning that Dave Grohl’s band, after Nirvana, shares the same name.
The emergence of hypersonic weapons, such as glide vehicles, has created a need for better detection and tracking capabilities, as well as new interceptors to counter their increased speed and maneuverability. The “FOO Fighter” program is part of ongoing efforts by the US military to develop space-based sensors that can detect and monitor various threats, including hypersonic missiles.
In August 2022, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched the last satellite of the SBIRS GEO constellation. This constellation provides infrared surveillance for missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence.
Earlier this year, in April, SpaceX launched ten advanced satellites known as “Tranche 0” for the US Space Force. These satellites are part of the “Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture,” a network aimed at enhancing the Space Force’s capabilities in detecting and tracking missiles.