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NRO Awards Five Contracts for Commercial Radar Capabilities on a Rapid Procurement Timeline

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
January 20, 2022
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WASHINGTON (NRO PR) — The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) announced the award of five contracts for commercial radar capabilities under the agency’s new Strategic Commercial Enhancements Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Framework. Companies receiving contracts are Airbus, U.S.; Capella Space; ICEYE, U.S.; PredaSAR; and Umbra.

“We are very pleased with the response to the first focus area under our new BAA,” said Dr. Chris Scolese, NRO director, who announced the release of the BAA acquisition just three months ago. “We know that users across the National System for Geospatial Intelligence are eager to explore commercial radar, and these contracts will allow us to rapidly validate capabilities and the benefits to the national mission.”

The Strategic Commercial Enhancements BAA Framework is designed to reach across disciplines and the global commercial remote sensing market to drive innovation, explore new phenomenologies, and ultimately, to ensure that the U.S. government has access to the best available commercial remote sensing capabilities.

“Consistent with the NRO’s commitment to a more agile acquisition process for commercial capabilities, this procurement was conducted quickly and efficiently,” noted Pete Muend, director of the NRO’s Commercial Systems Program Office. “We were able to issue the request for proposal, receive and evaluate the responses, and award these contracts in just over three months.”

Muend emphasized that while the new commercial radar contracts are constructed with low barriers to entry to accommodate emerging providers, they can quickly be scaled to much higher values as mission value, customer requirements, and on-orbit provider capabilities are confirmed.

This latest award demonstrates the NRO’s continued commitment to a diversified architecture comprised of national and commercial satellites, large and small constellations, working across multiple orbits. “By leveraging commercial capabilities to the maximum extent possible, we are delivering increased flexibility and capacity, greater responsiveness, and improved resiliency for our customers,” added Muend.

The NRO anticipates that the next BAA focus area will be issued later this year. 

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