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Sega Seeks Incremental Satellites Funds

By | April 23, 2007

      By Michael Sirak

      The Air Force space czar asked Congress last week to grant the service authority to buy big-ticket, large-sized satellites incrementally, similar to the way the Navy buys aircraft carriers and the intelligence community acquires spy satellites.

      Such an approach “would be beneficial in delivering capabilities and efficiencies,” Ronald Sega, under secretary of the Air Force, told the Senate Armed Services Committee strategic forces subcommittee.

      Sega, who in his position as the executive agent for major space programs across the Department of Defense (DOD), said the Air Force thinks an incremental funding approach would be most useful for those types of sophisticated satellites that are “very large and expensive and take some time to build” and won’t be acquired in great quantities.

      “We would appreciate considerations for incremental funding” in those classes of spacecraft, he told the panel.

      Examples, Sega said, include missile warning satellites, such as the Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] Space Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS) High spacecraft. Also eyed for consideration are space-based strategic communications capabilities like the notional Transformational Satellite Communications System, and next-generation position, navigation and timing spacecraft, such as new models of Global Positioning System satellites, he said.

      Sega said the Air Force will be acquiring these types of large, expensive satellites “for the foreseeable future.”

      However, current DOD procurement regulations place a burden on how the service must pay for them. While the Air Force can buy the first two satellites in a program using research and development dollars, which can be spread out over several years, the third and any later satellites in the series must be bought with procurement dollars, paid for essentially in one lump sum.

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