TSAT Solicitation Pending

The Air Force announced last week before the Christmas holiday the imminent release of a new draft request for proposal for the transformational satellite communications program. This new solicitation will reflect the changes that are being incorporated into the TSAT program under a restructure directed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense earlier this month. These changes are meant to ensure “a clear and affordable path” to fielding these sophisticated communications satellites by balancing “affordability, technology maturity, and program complexity to meet required demand,” the Air Force said. The new solicitation will supersede the previous RFP that the service is closing without a contract award. The new draft document covers the first increment of five TSAT satellites that will be known as the Block 10 constellation. First launch of them is planned in 2019. Under the restructure, the Block 10 spacecraft will rely upon Internet protocol routing for network management and moving data to deployed forces on the move. Only later increments will now incorporate laser and Ka-band links for enhanced communications support. Still the Block 10 constellation will provide “at least a factor of five growth” in throughput capacity over the advanced extremely high frequency communications satellites that will precede the TSAT birds in space, the Air Force said. Boeing and Lockheed Martin are competing to supply the TSAT satellites.