Air Force awards deal to enhance satellite comm system in space

The Defense Department took a huge step late last month toward establishing a global network capable of connecting warfighters to the Internet and each other.

With the award to Lockheed Martin Corp. of the Transformational Satellite Communications System's Mission Operation System (TMOS) contract, the Air Force plans to put in place a key element of the Global Information Grid that will provide the speed and bandwidth to transform DOD to a network-centric organization.

Defense CIO John Grimes said at a recent Network Centric Warfare conference that the system 'is a very central program to the implementation of this overall net-centric road map we're embarking on.'

The Air Force awarded Lockheed a $2.1 billion, 10-year contract to assist communications over the GIG, a voice, video and data network. TMOS would be a laser communications backbone in space, operating at multiple gigabits per second.

Brig. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, director of the Space and Missile Systems Center's Military Satellite Communications Joint Program Office, said Jan. 31 that within the satellite program, TMOS will provide a network management interface with the GIG.

'It is not just a ground segment control for the space segment,' she said. 'It provides a wider scope of functionality that deals more with the networking of satellite communications with the rest of the Global Information Grid.'

This 'is a core net-centric program that will significantly enhance DOD's ability to share information amongst U.S. and multinational forces consistent with the tempo of war,' said Lockheed spokesman Keith Mordoff. 'This is a core program to our Global Network Communications strategy, where we hope to work with DOD in striving to engineer 'both ends of the interface,' [for instance, the transformational satellite program] to the Army LandWarNet, to the Air Force ConstellationNet and the Navy ForceNet.'

TMOS has been a bone of contention on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers are frustrated that it has been behind schedule and over budget. The 2006 Defense authorization bill passed by Congress cut planned spending on TMOS by $300 million. The president's proposed budget for the program in fiscal 2007 was not available at press time.

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