The U.S. Space Force on Thursday released its 2023 Forecast to Industry for commercial satellite communications, outlining 11 planned purchases worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the new fiscal year that began this month.
The forecast is intended to help contractors plan for satcom solicitations during the next 11 months, although requirements and plans can change.
SATCOM as a Managed Service
The only new contract listed is for the SATCOM as a Managed Service (SaaMS) Pilot, a U.S. Army initiative to establish a leased, end-to-end global satellite network. Satcom providers for years have encouraged the U.S. military to adopt a managed service model for satcom instead of buying bandwidth directly.
The pilot will build on several demonstrations conducted by the Army and inform a full contract award in 2025, according to a May industry day presentation. The pilot contract will consist of one base-year period with four option years that can be added on. The pilot competition will kick off next month, with an award valued at less than $100 million issued in July.
Continuing Inmarsat satcom services
Four of the largest anticipated contracts will be for continuing Inmarsat satcom services, replacing deals set to expire in the coming months.
The largest contract listed is for providing Ku-band satcom for the U.S. Marine Corps and is a follow-on to a contract issued to Inmarsat Government. The new contract will be worth between $620 million and $630 million over a five-year period and will be issued in August.
The second-largest contract will provide Inmarsat’s airborne broadband and GX services to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and federal agencies. Satcom provider SATCOM Direct is the current contractor providing that service, having been awarded a blank purchase agreement (BPA) in 2018. That agreement is set to expire in February 2023. The follow-on contract will be worth between $240 million and $250 million over five years and will be issued in February.
A second contract, valued between $27.4 million and $37.4 million over five years, will provide maritime satcom services to the DoD and federal agencies. That will replace a BPA issued to Inmarsat Government in 2019 with a $250 million ceiling and is expected to be awarded in March 2023.
The third contract for Inmarsat services will be worth between $20 million and $30 million over five years and will provide Inmarsat’s GX land services in support of U.S. Special Operations Command. That contract will be awarded in January 2024 and will replace a BPA with satcom provider Comsat.