Iridium launches next-generation satcom communications

Iridium Satellite has been awarded a potential five-year, $8 million contract to support commercial satellite-based network services for the Department of Defense in the areas of satellite, ground node, user equipment/terminal software and hardware development, integration, and testing.

Maintaining the upper hand on the battlefield demands a swift and secure communication channel. This ensures that generals understand the enemy’s tactics, that soldiers understand their orders and helps airmen determine their targets. This new Air Force contract is geared toward assisting these efforts.

This is a follow-on requirement to procure continued communication support services that may be implemented for use in tactical, operational, and strategic-level activities.

This is not Iridium’s first partnership with the DoD. The company — based outside Washington D.C. — is already part of several other contracts, including a five-year, $400 million contract to provide secure communication services for them, also called “Netted Iridium,” as part of the Distributed Tactical Communications System program.

Funds from the contract signed this week will support these efforts as well as the Advanced Concepts Development Support Services.

And earlier this year, the DoD awarded Iridium another contract to supply secure and reliable communication networks. The network will use the company’s impending global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT.

Using SpaceX rockets, the program will send 70 satellites into orbit. While a test launch proved unsuccessful — the rocket exploded and destroyed an on-board Israeli satellite — Iridium still plans to use SpaceX.

Work will be performed in Virginia and Arizona, and it is expected to be complete by Nov. 2021. If Iridium chooses to exercise all of the contract’s options, the award will total $46 million.

However, at the time of the award, the Air Force obligated only $250,000. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division is the contracting activity.



About the Author

Tim Broderick is a freelance writer for Defense Systems.

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