The Air Force this week released two requests for information related to the Evolved Strategic Satellite Communications (ESS) program that will eventually replace the service’s current Advanced EHF (AEHF) satellite constellation.

Both notices were posted April 23 to FedBizOpps, with one related to market research on the ESS Ground Control Segment (GCS).

An artist’s illustration of an Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite. Image: Air Force.

“In an effort to better position the ESS GCS to meet ESS requirements, ESS is conducting market research for a ground demonstration phase to streamline and evolve two elements of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Mission Control Segment (MCS),” to include the AEHF MCS Mission Planning Element (MPE) and AEHF MCS Mission Operations Element (MOPS), the notice said. Lockheed Martin [LMT] is the prime contractor on the advanced EHF program.

A contract for the demonstration phase is expected to be awarded in fiscal year 2020 for a 30-month period of performance, the notice said. The goal is to evolve the existing advanced EHF elements’ code bases to be compatible with ESS mission planning and command-and-control functions.

Responses are due May 1. The respondent should not assume the ESS Space Segment and ESS GCS contractors are the same, nor that the ESS GCS contractor is also the ESS system integrator, the notice said.

 The second RFI stated that the ESS office is interested in possibly developing new space-qualified communications payload end cryptographic units (ECUs) for the program. “ECUs may require new ESS specific algorithms as will be prescribed by the National Security Agency (NSA),” the notice said.

Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center MILSATCOM Directorate is considering two separate acquisitions, it added. One would be for the ESS payload ECUs, and the second would be to acquire a strategic test terminal ECU for use in its test terminal vehicle. “The ESS program would like to understand if there are synergies between these two developments,” the notice said.

Responses are due by May 9. Respondents who did not respond to the original RFI posted in January are still eligible to respond, the notice said.