Boeing, Lockheed Win U.S. Space Force Contract for Satcom Payloads

Boeing, Lockheed Win U.S. Space Force Contract for Satcom Payloads

The U.S. Air Force started the PTS program in 2018 to develop secure satcom services for government agencies and military forces, so they are less dependent on the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites, which are used for classified-level communications

Fremont, CA: Boeing and Lockheed Martin were selected to develop jam-resistant communications payloads under the Protected Tactical Satcom (PTS) program. Each received $191 million and $240 million contracts, respectively, and will join Northrop Grumman as the three prime contractors for PTS payload development. Northrop Grumman was awarded a $253 million contract on February.

“We are thrilled to add Boeing and Lockheed Martin to the PTS effort,” said Col. Dennis O. Bythewood, program executive officer for space development. “The technology maturation and prototyping effort conducted under SpEC will allow SMC to harness the innovation of partnerships between traditional defense and non-traditional/small business contractors with a projected on-orbit capability three years earlier than a traditional acquisition.”

The three companies will develop jam-resistant payloads to be deployed on military or commercial satellite. The Space and Missile Systems Center plans to select two payloads to be launched in 2024 for on-orbit demonstrations that will last three to five years.

PTS is intended for tactical users and operators, as well as international allies. The Defense Department wants the communications services provided by AEHF to be used primarily for strategic operations like nuclear command and control.

The PTS payloads will be deployed on satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit, so they are compatible with military satcom terminals with stationary antennas that point only to GEO satellites. All three prime contractors are longtime suppliers of military satellites and payloads. Lockheed Martin is the AEHF prime contractor, Boeing builds the military’s Wideband Global Satcom satellites, and Northrop Grumman developed the AEHF payloads under contract to Lockheed Martin.

This effort uses the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Section 804 – “Middle Tier of Acquisition for Rapid Prototyping and Rapid Fielding,” and the FY 2016 NDAA Section 815 – “Amendments to Other Transaction Authority” to achieve an affordable, rapidly delivered, operational capability for tactical warfighters.

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