SDA Awards $1.5 Billion for 72 New ‘Transport’ Satellites to Lockheed and Northrop

The Area Improvement Company awarded contracts Aug. 21 to Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin for 36 satellites every as a part of Tranche 2 of its Proliferated Warfighter Area Structure (PWSA), a big constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit. 

The 2 offers, value a collective $1.55 billion, are a part of SDA’s Transport Layer—envisioned as a constellation of as much as 500 satellites that may present fixed protection over 95 p.c of the Earth’s floor always. The Transport Layer would create a world satellite tv for pc mesh community, offering high-speed tactical hyperlinks supporting the Pentagon’s broader plans for Joint All-Area Command and Management. 

Below the deal, Lockheed and Northrop will every construct satellites carrying ultra-high-frequency and tactical communications payloads in what SDA is looking the “Beta” section of Tranche 2. The 36 satellites every contractor is to construct will function in three orbital planes, every with 12 satellites.

Northrop’s settlement is value $733 million, and Lockheed’s is value $816. Which means the typical value per satellite tv for pc is about $21.5 million, effectively above Tournear’s said purpose of $15 million. Whether or not future tranches shall be more cost effective continues to be to be seen.

The satellites from this tranche are to be prepared for launch by September 2026, in line with an SDA launch, or 36 months from contract award to launch. That retains with SDA Director Derek M. Tournear’s said concentrate on pace as his high precedence, adopted by value and efficiency. 

“We are actually solidly within the procurement section for Tranche 2 of the PWSA to help a 2026 supply,” Tournear stated in an announcement. “Tranche 2 brings international persistence for all our capabilities in Tranche 1 and provides superior tactical information hyperlinks and future proliferated missions.” 

Tranche 1 has but to be launched—SDA launched its first batch of “Tranche 0” satellites in early April, and a second deliberate launch has been delayed. SDA plans to start out sending Tranche 1 satellites into orbit within the fall of 2024, adopted by Tranche 2 in 2026. 

Tournear has described Tranche 0 because the “warfighter immersion tranche,” giving service members the chance to work with the methods, perceive their capabilities, and start to think about how they could be employed. Tranche 1 will then operationalize these capabilities, and Tranche 2 will present international persistence, with the variety of satellites in every tranche persevering with to develop. 

Two extra deliberate segments are deliberate for the Tranche 2 Transport Layer, Alpha and Gamma. A solicitation for Alpha, which can embrace 100 satellites, was launched in June.

Proliferated Warfighter Area Structure

0 Transport 20 York Area Programs, Lockheed Martin
Monitoring 8 SpaceX, L3Harris
1 Transport 126 York Area Programs, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
Monitoring 35 L3Harris, Northrop Gumman, Raytheon
Demonstration and Experimentation System 12 York Area Programs
2 Transport 72 Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin
Transport 100 TBA
Transport 44 (approx.) TBA
Monitoring 52 (approx.) TBA
Demonstration and Experimentation System 20 (approx.) TBA

The solicitation for the Beta satellites, issued in late Might, famous that SDA anticipated awarding three contracts. An SDA official informed Air & Area Forces Journal that six proposals have been acquired from business however couldn’t instantly say why solely two distributors have been chosen. 

Tournear has stated SDA’s technique of spreading out contracts amongst a number of distributors reduces the riks of vendor lock, permitting many various contractors a number of alternatives to bid on alternatives for the PWSA. Up to now, the company has awarded contracts to: 

  • York Area Programs 
  • SpaceX 
  • L3Harris 
  • Lockheed Martin 
  • Northrop Grumman 
  • Raytheon