The House Armed Services Committee will host a private briefing on May 21, featuring representatives of both the Federal Communications Commission and the Defense Department, to discuss the ongoing fight over Ligado, C4ISRNET has learned.
Scheduled to appear are Dana Deasy, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, who has taken the lead on the Ligado issue; Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force; Charles Mathias, associate bureau chief of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau; and Ron Repasi, acting chief engineer with the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology.
The briefing will take place via remote call-in, as the House is not in session. Such briefings have been commonplace in recent weeks as Congress adapts to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 20, the FCC unanimously voted to move forward with the request by Ligado to use part of the L-band spectrum that defense officials, among others, have long argued will create interference with GPS capabilities over the continental United States, harming military use and the economic benefits from the system.
Ligado’s case rests on the argument that the Pentagon’s testing does not accurately capture the mitigation plan the company has developed over the years. The firm also argues there is no proof that interference will be an issue.
The planned HASC hearing comes two weeks after 22 members of the committee, including key leaders, wrote to the FCC demanding answers about the technical analysis performed by the commission. Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., and ranking member Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, co-signed that letter as well as an op-ed published by C4ISRNET with their Senate counterparts.
The Senate Armed Services Committee held a May 6 hearing on Ligado, which also featured Deasy and Raymond, alongside Pentagon research and engineering head Mike Griffin. The addition of FCC members, something missing from the SASC event, is notable for this discussion. SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., has accused the FCC of trying to sneak the Ligado approval in over a weekend with no notice for the Pentagon — something the FCC has denied through a spokesman.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.
Joe Gould is the Congress reporter for Defense News.