Satellite Communications

Air Force switches contractors with $298M award for FAB-T satellite terminals

In a win for Raytheon, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center has awarded the company a $298 million contract to supply the service’s Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T) system.

Raytheon will be taking over the contract from Boeing, the incumbent for the project.

The firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee award includes the delivery of 84 FAB-T command post terminals for the Air Force’s strategic bombers and electronic intelligence aircraft fleet, which includes the B-2, B-52, and RC-135 aircraft. However, the program originally envisioned 100 more terminals to provide satellite connectivity for the aircraft.

FAB-T is designed to provide civilian and military senior leadership with a wideband information exchange that would enable information superiority in command and control of strategic forces with a focus on a worldwide, survivable, satellite-based capability, according to Boeing. The open system architecture includes voice, data, imagery and video capabilities over protected satellite communications systems as well as Presidential and National Voice Conferencing.

The terminals will work with airborne, ground-fixed, and ground transportable applications to provide strategic nuclear command and control using Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) and Milstar Extremely High Frequency (EHF) waveforms. Overall, the system is said to be nuclear-survivable and capable of providing beyond line-of-sight communications in heavily denied-access environment.

The award is only for command post terminals and includes options for future systems.

 “As a result of this down-select decision, low rate initial production, full rate production and interim contractor support contract options may be exercised to deliver FAB-T CPT-Only Terminals,” reads the service’s official contract language, released Monday evening, according to Air Force Times. “The Phase 2 production contract options for LRIP, FRP, and ICS may be exercised after completion of Milestone C. Fiscal 2013 through 2019 aircraft and other procurement funds are programmed for this effort, with $31,274 being obligated at time of award.”

Per DOD contracting rules, Boeing will have 10 days to consider and protest the contract award. Boeing won the original $237 million contract in 2002, but delays and cost overruns prompted the Air Force to look for an alternate program, Aviation Week reported.

“Boeing is disappointed by the decision,” company spokesman Richard Esposito wrote in a statement. “We will request a formal debrief from the Air Force and will determine a path forward after that formal debrief is completed.”

About the Author

Joey Cheng is an editorial fellow with Defense Systems.

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