Navy awards large deal to upgrade satellite communications

The Navy is adding some muscle to its satellite communications, both for its own ships and for coalition partners, with new multiband terminals that will quadruple data rates while providing resistance to jamming and other electromagnetic interference.

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego has awarded Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems a $103 million contract—which could be worth up to $467 million if all options are exercised—to develop, test and deliver Navy Multiband Terminals, which will provide protected transmission of tactical data, imagery, video, maps and targeting information.

The terminal, which the Navy refers to as NMT, is the fourth generation of the Navy’s extremely high-frequency terminals. According to a Navy fact sheet, NMT will deliver about a fourfold increase over current terminals and will include wideband options for communicating with other military satellite systems, including the Defense Satellite Communications System and the Wideband Global Satellite.

The Navy plans to install NMT on about 300 ships, submarines and shore stations, according to Raytheon, which has provided satellite communications systems to the Navy since the 1980s. The systems also would be used for communications with allies—the new contract calls for 97 percent of the systems to be used by the United States, with 3 percent going to the United Kingdom as part of the Foreign Military Sales Program.

Depending on the situation, NMT will have a pretty wide range of transmission speeds, anywhere from 75 bits/sec to 8 megabits/sec for voice, data and real-time video, the Navy said. With its dual antennas, it will be able to provide ships with simultaneous use of the military Q, Ka and X bands, submarines with use of the Q and X bands, and both types of vessels with access to the Global Broadcast Service. Shore stations will be limited to use of the Q band.

The $103 million (officially $102,922,387) initial contract award covers work through the end of fiscal 2016. If all options are exercised and the contract reaches its full potential amount, work will continue until September 2022.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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