Boeing and Lockheed Martin are to develop competing designs for the US Department of Defense's transformational communications military satellite communication (TCM) space segment under contracts each worth $472 million.

Boeing is leading a team including Raytheon, Ball Aerospace, General Dynamics (GD) and L-3 Communications.

The Lockheed Martin team includes payload supplier Northrop Grumman, Rockwell Collins and ViaSat, as well as units of GD and L-3. The contracts cover the two-year risk-reduction and system-definition phase.

One team is to be selected in 2006 for the $6 billion acquisition and operations phase of the TCM programme, with satellite launches scheduled to begin in 2011. The risk-reduction phase includes demonstrations of laser communication and satellite router subsystems and gateways for linking ground-based fibreoptic networks to the system.

The TCM system is intended to provide secure and survivable wideband communications links between mobile users, networking sensors, weapons, command and control nodes, aircraft and other platforms.

Source: Flight International