Air Force explores various commercial satellite options

Boeing will recommend technology and acquisition strategies

The Air Force has awarded Boeing Co. a $900,000 contract to explore ways to modify existing commercial satellites capabilities to meet military satellite communications needs.

The study will concentrate on communications-on-the-move and also low-altitude airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms that use Ka-band frequencies, Boeing said Feb. 10.

In addition to the technological aspects, Boeing also will make suggestions as to the most feasible acquisition strategies. The company will deliver its recommendations to the Air Force in July.

A future vision for the Defense Department might include core-owned assets such as the Wideband Global Satcom and complementary hosted, or free-flier, payloads, Boeing officials said.

A hosted payload is one that adds additional capabilities to an existing commercial satellite for the purpose of being leased by a government user. One of the key benefits of such an approach is the speed of delivery, since hosted payloads can typically be delivered in less than three years.

Boeing has received orders for five hosted payloads in the past 18 months, the officials said.

The Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate within the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center awarded the contract.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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