Lockheed Martin and Boeing will build prototype payloads for the Space Force’s Protected Tactical Satellite Communication program, the service announced March 3.

The two companies join Northrop Grumman as the prime contractors for Protected Tactical SATCOM (PTS) payload development. Northrop Grumman was awarded a $253.6 million contract Feb. 12, while Lockheed Martin and Boeing were awarded $240 million and $191 million contracts respectively Feb. 28.

“We are thrilled to add Boeing and Lockheed Martin to the PTS effort,” said Col. Dennis O. Bythewood, the Space Force’s program executive officer for space development. “The technology maturation and prototyping effort conducted under SpEC will allow SMC to harness the innovation of partnerships between traditional defense and non-traditional/small business contractors with a projected on-orbit capability three years earlier than a traditional acquisition.”

The Space Force is developing PTS as its next generation anti-jamming satellite communications system, providing tactical communications for war fighters worldwide over the Protected Tactical Waveform. The PTS family of systems will utilize dedicated geostationary satellites as well as payloads hosted on commercial satellites and those operated by international partners. PTS is a Space and Missile Systems Center pacesetter program.

The Space Force had said they would award up to four payload development contracts, but on March 3 they noted the Lockheed Martin and Boeing contracts would be the final awards. All three contracts were awarded through the Space Enterprise Consortium, an other transaction authority used for rapid prototyping that prioritizes incorporating nontraditional vendors.

“Teaming with non-traditional hardware and software developers has enabled the Lockheed Martin team to leap frog communications payload capabilities,” said Erik Daehler, Lockheed Martin’s director of strategic communications architectures in a statement. “We are able to ‘Go Fast,’ both in technology deployment and contracting structure, due to the nature of the OTA acquisition. Our partnership with the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC) has made these non-traditional acquisitions possible.”

Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.

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