Military Communications System Deal Goes to Trio

Military Communications System Deal Goes to Trio

By Nick Wakeman, Staff Writer

MAY 31 ? The Defense Department has pulled together a trio of contractors to build the next generation of the military's highly secure communications system.

Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., Hughes Electronics Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., and TRW Inc. of Cleveland will build the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system, which will use four satellites to provide more data throughput capability and coverage flexibility to regional and global military operations.

Lockheed Martin and TRW had been leading one team that was competing with Hughes, a subsidiary of General Motors Corp., to win the $2.5 billion contract. By combining the two teams into one, the Defense Department is speeding up deployment of the system by 18 months.

Lockheed Martin will serve as the overall systems integrator and prime contractor, issuing subcontracts to both Hughes and TRW. The roles and responsibilities will take advantage of each team member's strengths in building highly secure, military communications satellites.

"Lockheed Martin is proud to lead this critical national initiative and will contribute its systems integration, ground systems and satellite expertise to provide an effective solution to the U.S. military's communications needs for the 21st century," said Anthony Tuffo, president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems' operations in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The production phase of the program is scheduled to begin in April 2001, with the first of the satellites to be launched late in 2004.

The new system of satellites will provide 10 times the capacity available at present and data rates six times greater. The increased data rates will permit transmission of tactical military communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data.

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