As the U.S. Defense Department goes full force into managing its terrestrial digital infrastructure of interconnected systems, it faces an additional challenge: connecting the moving dots involving space-based networks. Military satellite users want commercial service providers to develop more resilient and flexible communication networks based on open architectures to streamline shifts between military and commercial resources.
During the final days of November, managers for the Joint Telemedicine Network (JTMN) powered down the central teleport facility in Landstuhl, Germany, officially closing the network that had provided a dedicated worldwide satellite communication (SATCOM) network to U.S. Army medical personnel treating wounded soldiers at field hospitals and forward operating bases in combat zones.
U.S. Army satellite ground stations are getting a much-needed total makeover—considering that several hail from the same era as the Vietnam War, the Kennedy presidency and the space race.
Their high-tech moniker—Satellite Earth Terminal Stations, or SETS—belies the actual nature of these facilities. The structures appear to more closely resemble corrugated steel warehouses for auto parts than suitable environments for cutting-edge satellite communications (SATCOM) equipment. During the 1960s, digital SATCOM was hardly a twinkle in the eye of technologists. SATCOM speed, volume and complexity would increase by many orders of magnitude over the next five decades.
Advances in a plethora of military communication and situational awareness platforms have created unintended repercussions for the U.S. Navy, from the “forest of antennas” that can consume a ship’s deck to the debilitating effects of radio interference that clog airwaves and impede critical links to vessels, aircraft, drones and even satellites. Navy engineers are toiling on a handful of projects to ensure effective and secure communication links, which are so fundamental to military operations.
The U.S. Navy’s investment in its own fleet of high-altitude, long-range unmanned aerial systems called Tritons marks a detour from the military’s longtime use of satellite technology to connect its arsenal of big platforms such as Global Hawks and Predators.
As the U.S. Army brings even more advanced information technologies into the force, the service also strives to simplify training and use of these highly capable tools. Making increasingly complex systems simpler to operate now is a core function of the office tasked with designing, fielding and maintaining command, control and communications in the warfighting realm.
Raytheon Co. Space and Airborne Systems, Marlborough, Massachusetts, has been awarded a $39,951,691 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (FA8808-16-C-0006) for protected tactical service field demonstration (PTSFD). PTSFD will demonstrate the ability to provide wideband anti-jam communications to tactical users using the Wideband Global Satellite Communications (SATCOM) constellation and commercial SATCOM. Work will be performed in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and is expected to be completed by September 30, 2020.
In its enduring space race to narrow the materializing gap between the United States and peer competitors, the Air Force’s fiscal year 2017 budget emphasizes sustaining mission capabilities and improving space resilience by investing in command and control programs, situational awareness technologies, expendable launch systems and satellite communications.
Growing threats to national security in the space domain have prompted U.S. Air Force leaders to revamp plans and programs to adapt to a new reality of reinforcing system and network resiliency and shifting its people and resources to focus on warfighting functions. Government space capabilities, augmented by commercial systems, will play critical and active roles to secure U.S. and allied interests in and through the increasingly contested domain of space, requiring the Air Force and the Defense Department to proactively plan how to enable more coordinated and integrated space enterprise operations.
The Defense Department has reached a turning point in satellite communications (SATCOM) acquisition and deployment. On one hand, it is transitioning SATCOM from narrowband to wideband to keep up with ever-accumulating voice, video and data consumption. On the other, the budget forecast for the foreseeable future does not cover the replacement or addition of military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) systems, except for those within existing programs of record.
The U.S. Army is evolving and positioning its fleet of ground satellite communications terminals to ensure that units can successfully respond to multiple military or humanitarian contingencies anywhere in the world. Both commercial and military satellites are giving the Army greater flexibility in networking links and in the missions that can be conducted with network connectivity.
L-3 Communications announced today that it has been awarded an $81.8 million contract from Raytheon Australia to supply the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with 236 Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), additional support equipment and training as part of Joint Project 2008 Phase 5B1. This program will further enable the ADF to utilize the Wideband Global Satellite Communications system, significantly increasing its satellite communications capabilities. Two L-3 business units, Global Communications Solutions (GCS) and Linkabit, will perform on this contract, with hardware deliveries expected to be completed this year.
DataPath Inc., Duluth, Georgia, has been awarded a $6,791,930 firm-fixed-price contract. The contractor will provide five Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) satellite communications (SATCOM) terminals with related equipment and training for the Danish Air Force and 29 WGS SATCOM terminals with related equipment and training for the Danish Army. Work will be performed in Duluth, Georgia, and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2016. This contract is 100 percent foreign military sales. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, is the contracting activity (FA8730-15-C-0024).
Harris Corporation, Palm Bay, Florida, was awarded a $9,946,851 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research of distributed embedded satellite communications on-the-move terminals. Work will be performed in Palm Bay, Florida (50 percent); Boulder, Colorado (25.20 percent); Torrance, California (23.40 percent); and Aberdeen, Maryland (1.40 percent), with an estimated completion date of March 30, 2015. Bids were solicited via the Internet, with two received. Fiscal 2014 other procurement (Army) funds in the amount of $6,700,000, and fiscal 2014 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $912,021, are being obligated at the time of the award.
L-3 Communications Corp., Communication Systems West, Salt Lake City, Utah, has been awarded a $17,919,946 delivery order (0003) on an existing firm-fixed-price and cost-reimbursable contract (FA8620-13-G-4051) for supply of Satellite Communications Terminals, Test and Monitor Sub-Systems, Satellite Earth Terminal Sub-Systems (SETTS) Site Monitor and Radomes for the United States, United Kingdom and France. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Medium Altitude Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity.
General Dynamics, SATCOM Technologies Inc., Duluth, Ga., is being awarded a $15,093,132 fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to produce and deliver up to 80 each Ku-Band terminals, Ka-Band conversion kits and X-Band conversion kits for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Special Communications Requirements Division (SCRD). The SCRD has been tasked by the National Guard Bureau (NGB) to install, test and evaluate the satellite communications on the move technologies in support of the NGB's advanced liaison response vehicle. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity (N68335-13-D-0032).
Harris Corp., Palm Bay, Fla. is being awarded a $9,370,956 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed price contract for AN/WSC-6 E(V)9 satellite communication (SATCOM) systems. The AN/WSC-6 E(V)9 system is used by surface ships to provide a military SATCOM capability in the super high frequency range. This contract includes options, which if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to an estimated $40,515,414. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, is the contracting activity.
Linquest Corp., Los Angeles, Calif., is being awarded a $7,002,010 firm-fixed-price contract modification contract for military satellite communication system engineering and integration services. The contracting activity is Space and Missile Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.
The Commonwealth of Australia Department of Defence (ADF) has selected ViaSat Incorporated, Carlsbad, California, to supply the Ultra High Frequency Satellite Communication (Satcom) Mission System for its recently-launched UHF capacity on Intelsat IS-22. The system is designed to provide voice and data military satcom covering a region from the west coast of Africa to the east coast of Australia. The value of the award to ViaSat is approximately $35 million.
Globecomm Systems Incorporated, Hauppauge, New York; DRS Technical Services Incorporated, Herndon, Virginia; and L- 3/3Di Technologies Limited Liability Corporation, Hanover, Maryland, are each being awarded an indefinite- delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price, multiple award contract, with a cumulative value of $17,001,463 to provide commercial-off-the-shelf satellite network and communications equipment and other services. Each contractor will be awarded $8,333 at the time of award. These contracts include options, which, if exercised, could bring the combined cumulative value of these multiple award contracts to an estimated $85,007,313.