Aerospace company Lockheed Martin has been awarded a US$240 million contract to develop a prototype payload for its new Protected Tactical Satellite communications (PTS) system.
This is a next-generation capability designed to connect military forces to more agile and jam-resistant satellite communications.
The complete system will deploy a constellation of dedicated geostationary satellites, commercially hosted payloads and coalition partner satellites, integrated through a ground control network to provide US and coalition forces, including Australia, with protected communications.
The contract was awarded by the US Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) based at Los Angeles Air Force Base.
Lockheed Martin said it was excited to be in a position to rapidly develop protected SATCOM payload technologies to benefit the warfighters.
“Lockheed Martin understands how important protected communications are to our tactical warfighters deployed downrange. We also know that our SATCOM systems have to evolve to stay ahead of the threats, because a space system that can’t survive day one of a conflict can’t achieve the mission,” said Mike Cacheiro, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for protected military SATCOM.
“Having delivered the nation’s essential satellite communications systems, we are uniquely positioned to partner with the US Space Force to develop the next generation’s innovative, resilient and modular protected tactical SATCOM architecture.”
Erik Daehler, Lockheed Martin director of strategic communications architectures, said teaming with non-traditional hardware and software developers had enabled the company team to leapfrog communications payload capabilities.
“We are able to go fast, both in technology deployment and contracting structure, due to the nature of the OTA acquisition. Our partnership with the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC) has made these non-traditional acquisitions possible.”
Lockheed Martin launched the first commercial protected communications payload in 2019, featuring an advanced digital signal processor and protected communications algorithms.
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The company said these technologies, along with mission expertise and a partnership with the Space Force, will dramatically accelerate delivery of PTS.
Lockheed Martin has developed and built more than 300 payloads for a variety of missions and has more than 50 years of experience as a payload integrator, developing cutting-edge technologies supporting critical national missions.
“PTS continues Lockheed Martin’s legacy of developing resilient protected communications for the military that includes both the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) and the MILSTAR systems,” it said.