Four companies have been awarded $700,000 six-month contracts to study concepts for the US Navy's next generation-communication satellite system.

Hughes Space and Communications, Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, Raytheon and Spectrum Astro will develop concepts for the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), which is planned to ultimately replace the USN's present generation of narrowband satellites - the Hughes-built UHF Follow-On constellation - over the next two decades.

Production is to begin in 2003. The MUOS will be the military equivalent of commercial mobile communications satellite constellations such as Iridium, providing high data rates, paging and allowing use of handheld terminals. It is part of the broader advanced narrowband system, expected to include commercial mobile satellite services and possibly an airborne communications node.

Source: Flight International