Boeing [BA] has confirmed that it is the third manufacturer to receive a development contract to build a satellite payload prototype and communications architecture for the U.S. Space Force’s Evolved Strategic SATCOM (ESS) program. They will compete with rival space systems manufacturers Northrop Grumman [NOC] and

Lockheed Martin [LMT] for the full ESS system contract, which is expected to be awarded in 2025.

According to Space Force specifications, the ESS military satellite system should: feature enhanced resilience and cybersecurity capabilities; be interoperable with existing Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites; and be able to connect regions over the Arctic in a similar fashion to today’s Enhanced Polar System satellites.

Boeing said the ESS development contract is valued at $298 million. The U.S. Space Force was budgeted to issue up to three ESS development contracts in 2020, and is not expected to include any additional competitors for the full contract award at this time.

“We have worked closely with the Space Force to define a program responsive to our nation’s needs,” Troy Dawson, vice president of Boeing Government Satellite Systems, said in a statement. “By leveraging our expertise in digital engineering and technologies with synergies across both our government and commercial systems, we’re uniquely positioned to deliver solutions needed to address the ever-evolving threats.”

This article was originally published in our sister publication Via Satellite.