Air Force restructures TSAT program

After rumors of a delay to the Transformational Satellite Communications (TSAT) program, Air Force officials have decided to close the current program solicitation and restructure the contract for a new competition.

The first launch in an initial series of five planned satellites is now set for no later than Sept. 30, 2019. Under the closed solicitation, the first launch would have occurred in 2015.

The Air Force said in a Dec. 23, 2008, announcement that the first deployment of the TSAT network would not include satellite-to-satellite laser links or Ka-band support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as was intended in the earlier contract. Those features will be added later.

Other capabilities included in the original contract solicitation remain, such as IP routing for network management and communications for forces on the move.

Air Force officials said the move complies with the recent directive from John Young, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, to immediately restructure the program to avoid even more delays.

TSAT is aimed at providing high-capacity, secure satellite communications with bandwidth from 10 to 40 gigabits/sec. It’s seen as a vital component of future force deployments — in particular, the Army’s Future Combat Systems.

Air Force officials said they will hold an industry day for potential bidders on the new contract on Jan. 16. In the meantime, they have reportedly extended the risk-reduction contracts awarded to Boeing and Lockheed Martin to cover the first half of 2009, at an added cost of $75 million each.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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