WASHINGTON — Buying Viasat’s tactical data links business will help realize L3Harris Technologies’ joint all-domain command and control ambitions and will likely push the company up the defense contracting ladder, according to CEO Chris Kubasik.
The prospective $1.96 billion purchase of the Link 16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System platforms, their associated terminals and space assets “fits nicely in our comms- and networking-centric portfolio,” enabling the company to bring the Pentagon’s JADC2 effort “to life,” he said Oct. 28 during a conference call to discuss third-quarter financial results.
“It gives us the footprint on 20,000-plus platforms, and real estate matters on these platforms, whether they’re aircraft or ships or other platforms. We’ll be able to modernize and upgrade Link 16. We’ll be able to work in other waveforms and focus on resiliency,” he added. “It’s just an accelerant.”
JADC2 is the Defense Department’s vision for a seamlessly connected military, one where information flows quickly and securely to friendly forces across land, air, sea, space and cyber.
The Army, Air Force and Navy each have their own contributions to the multibillion-dollar endeavor: Project Convergence, the Advanced Battle Management System and Project Overmatch, respectively. L3Harris in mid-September was named to the ABMS Digital Infrastructure Consortium alongside four other companies.
The L3Harris-Viasat deal was unveiled shortly after, on Oct. 3. It is expected to close in the first half of 2023.
“Strategically, I couldn’t have asked for a better first acquisition. This was pretty straightforward and pretty easy,” Kubasik said. “It fits perfectly into our portfolio, fills a gap that we had. It ties into JADC2, networks, comms, everything we’re known for.”
The pending sale is expected to net Viasat $1.8 billion, after taxes and other payments.
The data link business, part of Viasat’s Government Systems division, generated some $400 million in yearly revenue. Link 16 — a secure, jam-resistant and high-speed line of communication used across domains and by NATO — accounts for one-third of Viasat’s government business.
Kubasik previously told C4ISRNET in an interview that the purchase of Viasat’s product line would stimulate competition in the defense industrial base. He re-upped the sentiment during the earnings call.
“Our momentum is building, and I’m optimistic about the value-creating opportunities,” he said Friday. “Financially, as I’ve said, it’s accretive. It gives us, again, a seat at the table and continues to move us up the food chain.”
L3Harris was the tenth largest defense contractor by revenue in the latest Defense News rankings, behind BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and more. Viasat was No. 73.
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.