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Lockheed Martin to develop prototype payload for US Space Force’s Satcom

The payloads hope to ensure adaptive, anti-jamming communications channels are available to allied forces in a contested environment.

The US Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base has awarded Lockheed Martin a $240m contract to develop a prototype payload for its new Protected Tactical SATCOM (PTS) system.

PTS is a next-generation capability connecting warfighters with more agile and jam-resistant satellite communications (SATCOM). The system will deploy a constellation of geostationary satellites, commercially hosted payloads, and coalition partner satellites integrated through a ground control network to provide the US and coalition forces protected communications.

SMC’s acquisition begins with a rapid prototyping phase for a new mission payload hosting the Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW). SMC is leveraging Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contracting mechanisms rather than a traditional Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based acquisition for prototyping to provide agile development, “EPIC Speed” (Enterprise, Partnership, Innovation, Culture and Speed).

Commenting on the development, Erik Daehler, Lockheed Martin’s director of Strategic Communications Architectures, said: “Teaming with non-traditional hardware and software developers has enabled the Lockheed Martin 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.”

Mike Cacheiro, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for Protected Military SATCOM, remarked: “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 1 of a conflict can’t achieve the mission. Having delivered the nation’s essential satellite communications systems, we are uniquely positioned to partner with the U.S. Space Force to develop the next generation’s innovative, resilient and modular protected tactical SATCOM architecture.”