A classified US satellite-based intelligence system was knocked out at the start of the year by what the US Department of Defense (DoD) describes as a "significant problem" caused by the Y2K computer bug.

The National Reconnaissance Organisation (NRO) - which controls US spy satellites - was unable to process information from the errant system for 3h. NRO officials used back-up procedures to resume operations, but at less than normal levels. The system resumed full operations on 3 January.

Deputy Secretary for Defense John Hamre says the unidentified spacecraft "were always under positive control. Our problem actually was here on the ground in the processing station." He says strategic early warning systems were not involved.

The Pentagon spent $3.6 billion in the 18 months to 1 January, 2000, to make the US military's 7,600 computer systems Y2K compliant. Hamre says another source of Y2K concern - cyberattacks by hackers - did not materialise.

A minor bug also hit the French Syracuse II military communications system in the rollover to 2000.

• Lockheed Martin has dropped its protest against Boeing's selection as supplier of the USA's next-generation imaging reconnaissance satellites, according to the NRO.

Lockheed Martin, which supplied the DoD for nearly 40 years, filed a protest with the US General Accounting Office following Boeing's September win. The Future Imagery Architecture contract is worth around $5 billion.

• Lockheed Martin has received a $530 million contract-modification by the US Air Force to restructure the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) High programme to reflect a two-year slip to fiscal year 2004 of the first satellite launch.

SBIRS is designed to provide timely warning of tactical missile launches.

Source: Flight International