Keep TSAT on Track

So says Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute in an issue brief dated today. Thompson says the transformational satellite communications program is “foremost” among the visionary networking initiatives that the next Administration will inherit from the Bush Pentagon. (The others include the joint tactical radio system and Army’s Future Combat System, he said.) “Nothing like TSAT exists today in the joint force,” he writes, noting that the planned five-satellite constellation will deliver “internet-like connectivity to every US warfighter in the world,” making them “more likely to survive and more likely to win.” However, because TSAT is so different from its satellite-communications predecessors, some people do not understand it and, therefore, “want to turn it into a bill-payer for more prosaic needs,” Thompson warns. “That impulse needs to be resisted by the next Administration,” he continues, “because TSAT is the most important technology initiative the joint force is pursuing, a breakthrough that enables all the other advances needed to win future wars.” The Air Force hopes to choose the TSAT satellite provider—either Boeing or Lockheed Martin—before the end of the year. Under current schedules, the service doesn’t anticipate the first launch of a TSAT satellite until 2018, but this may change when the Air Force finalizes its Fiscal 2010 budget request by early next year.