With a military communications satellite programme worth up to $6.2 billion at stake, Raytheon has defended the suitability of troubled Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) for the role of spacecraft supplier on its team bidding to develop the US Navy's Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), writes Graham Warwick.

Analysts have favoured Lockheed Martin for the MUOS contract since it added rival Boeing Satellite Systems, which built the existing UHF Follow-On (UFO) satellites that will be replaced by MUOS, to its team in January last year, and after Raytheon team-member Loral filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July.

The reorganisation of parent company Loral Space & Communications is well under way, with the March sale of five satellites to Intelsat raising just over $1 billion towards the company's $2.1 billion debt. SS/L is to file a reorganisation plan this month and expects to emerge from bankruptcy in July/August, ahead of the rest of the company, but after the MUOS downselect.

Raytheon has based its MUOS bid around SS/L's 1300-series commercial high-power communications satellite bus. Lockheed Martin has yet to reveal which bus it is offering, its own A2100 or Boeing's rival 702. The initial MUOS contract, expected to be worth $2.5 billion, will include the first two geostationary satellites, with the first

Source: Flight International