The U.S. Space Force must buy new terminals, Viasat won a U.S. Marine Corps contract, and the U.S. Air Force needs a new satcom simulator. Here are the biggest MILSATCOM stories you may have missed over the last month:
Space Force must buy 30 satcom terminals by 2026
The Space Force plans to award a contract this year to buy 30 new satellite communication terminals.
The terminals will need to be deployed by 2027 to replace the Ground Mobile Terminal, which the military uses for tactical communications across its Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) networks, according to a Jan. 24 sources sought notice. The current systems are becoming obsolete, and the Space Force wants to replace them with commercially available terminals that can connect to military satellites over X- and Ka-bands or commercial satellites on C- and Ku-bands.
Space Force preps next phase of jam-resistant satellite network
The Space Force is also preparing to launch the next phase of development of an anti-jamming satcom capability: Protected Tactical Satcom (PTS).
The Space Force in 2020 issued awards to three companies — defense contractors Boeing (NYSE: BA), Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) — to design PTS prototype payloads. Boeing and Northrop Grumman were selected to continue developing the prototypes for launch in fiscal 2024.
Phase two will involve the creation of an initial operational capability for PTS by 2030, according to a Jan. 20 request for information. That system will include spacecraft on orbit, a contractor-managed ground system and interoperability with some government systems.
Viasat awarded satcom contract by U.S. Marines
The Marine Corps awarded satellite communications provider Viasat (Nasdaq: VSAT) a contract to provide end-to-end satellite communications support to the Corps’ I Marine Expeditionary Force, extending a previous arrangement.
The value of the contract, announced last week, was not disclosed. Carlsbad, Calif.-based Viasat was awarded the initial contract in the second half of 2021, a spokesperson told Connectivity Business News.
The latest award follows a $325 million U.S. Special Operations Command contract the company won in November 2022 to supply radios, antennas and terminals as well as support services, repairs and training.
Space Force to issue follow-on contract for Inmarsat satcom
The Space Force announced its intention to issue a $27.4 million to $37.4 million contract to satellite communications provider Inmarsat.
The contract is a follow-on to a blanket purchase agreement issued to Inmarsat Government in 2018 for maritime satcom services, which had a $250 million ceiling and is set to expire in March. The Space Force expects to award a contract between April and June. The new deal will include a one-year base period that can be extended to up to five years.
The government has plans to extend or renew multiple deals with Inmarsat this year, according to a 2022 Forecast to Industry.
Air Force looking for MUOS simulator
The Air Force wants to buy a new simulator for the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), one of the Space Force’s advanced satcom constellations.
The simulator will emulate MUOS without using live satellite channels, allowing operators to conduct training or provide technical support to users. The only known supplier of MUOS simulators is software and engineering provider W5 Technologies, which developed the product with government funding and now sells them commercially.
MUOS is the military’s replacement for the UHF constellation. The U.S. Navy in January announced that it had conducted a successful demonstration that connected UHF and MUOS, ensuring that operators still using legacy UHF equipment can access advanced MUOS features, such as improved connectivity, a ten-fold increase in communications capacity and reduced signal interference.