Lockheed Martin Captures TMOS; Receives Third AEHF Contract

By | February 6, 2006 | Feature, Government

Lockheed Martin Corp. won the rights to build the ground-based network architecture for the U.S. Air Force‘s next-generation Transformational Satellite communications (TSAT) system, the Air Force announced Jan. 27. Separately, the Air Force let a contract to Lockheed Martin for the third, and likely final, Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) communications satellite.

Future Of Military Communications

Under a contract worth $2.1 billion through September 2015, Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems and Solutions will lead an industry team that develops and fields the TSAT Mission Operations System (TMOS), one of the principal TSAT components, and a cornerstone of the Air Force’s future military satellite communications infrastructure. The company prevailed over competing bids by Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Co.

TSAT is intended to provide U.S. combat forces with unprecedented access to the U.S. Department of Defense‘s worldwide information-sharing networks via an Internet- protocol-based system of satellites, ground terminals and teleports that move vast amounts of data quickly and securely. The goal of TSAT is to make it possible even for individual, dismounted soldiers to tap into these networks, which the Pentagon collectively dubs the Global Information Grid, while maneuvering. Such capability will enable increased tempos of operations and enhanced situational awareness at all levels, Air Force and industry officials said. TMOS will manage how the TSAT network functions, monitoring the network, reconfiguring it as necessary and adjusting the allocation of communications bandwidth to meet the increased demands of certain users at specific times.

"The Lockheed Martin team has put together a tremendous solution based upon four years of continuous customer interaction," Ron Nakamoto, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager for Intelligence Systems, said. "TMOS will enable speed of command whenever and wherever our forces are deployed."

The Air Force had planned to begin operations of the first of five TSAT satellites around 2013, although this schedule likely will slip after Congress cut $400 million from the Pentagon’s 2006 budget request, nearly halving the program’s funding. This was the second consecutive year that lawmakers slashed the program’s budget due to concerns over the technical maturity of the program and the soundness of the Air Force’s acquisition plan.

Brig. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, director of the Milsatcom joint program office at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., said the office is examining the concerns voiced by the lawmakers as it formulates the path ahead. "If we have to slow down the space segment because of the budget cut, we don’t necessarily have to slow the TMOS work by a commensurate amount of time," she said. "We can actually, in many ways, help to reduce the risk to the space segment by using this additional time for TMOS to better define the architecture and interfaces."

The TSAT satellites will succeed the Advanced EHF satellites, which are expected to start operations around 2008. The former will be equipped with laser communications links to move large amounts of data at high rates between them. They will also use the laser links, along with radio frequency channels, to transfer the data to the ground terminals and teleports.

Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin are competing to build the TSAT spacecraft, which the Air Force estimates will significantly outperform today’s Milstar communications satellites, as well as the Advanced EHF constellation. For example, TSAT will be able to transmit a 120 megabyte image from an overhead surveillance platform in less than a second, said Pawlikowski. The Advanced EHF system would require approximately two minutes to pass this same image, while Milstar would require 12 minutes, she said.

Final Advanced EHF Satellite

Lockheed Martin already is building a pair of Advanced EHF spacecraft and will build the third under a $491 million production contract. "This production contract reflects the Air Force’s strong commitment to providing the warfighter with assured communications connectivity," Julie Sattler, Lockheed Martin’s Advanced EHF program vice president, said in a statement. "The team is completely focused on achieving mission success on this vital program and we look forward to delivering this critical capability to our customer."

The Air Force restructured the Advanced EHF program in 2004, shifting the launch of the first satellite, designated SV1, from 2007 to 2008 due to delays in providing government-furnished cryptographic equipment to the contractors.

Company spokesman Steve Tatum said the launch of SV1 is now expected around April 2008. The company statement said work on the first satellite is "progressing on schedule." The satellite’s core structure is currently undergoing integration with its propulsion subsystem, the company said.

The second spacecraft, SV2 is expected to be launched about a year after SV1, with SV3 in 2010.

Before the program restructure, the Air Force had planned to launch up to five Advanced EHF satellites, but the Air Force now appears set on building the first TSAT satellite after SV3. "The acquisition of SV3 will complete the AEHF program of record," the Air Force said in a statement in mid January.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor and is providing the A2100 satellite bus and the Advanced EHF mission control segment, which consolidates Milstar and Advanced EHF satellite ground controls into a single system.

Northrop Grumman is the payload integrator and supplies the payload, including the computer processors, nulling antennas, inter-satellite crosslinks, radio frequency antenna equipment, and phased array antennas. Aerojet builds the satellite’s electric propulsion system.

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