Boeing [BA] said on March 16 that U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) recently validated the design maturity of the company’s Protected Tactical SATCOM Prototype (PTS-P) satellite in a critical design review (CDR).

SSC said on March 17 that the command and Boeing completed the CDR last Dec. 17.

In February and March of 2020, SSC’s predecessor–the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC)–awarded PTS-P contracts to Lockheed Martin [LMT], Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Boeing (Defense Daily, Feb. 26, 2021). On March 31 last year, SSC chose Northrop Grumman and Boeing to move forward in the PTS-P competition.

SSC said that the command and Northrop Grumman finished its PTS-P CDR last Oct. 7.

In 2020, SMC awarded Raytheon [RTN] and L3Harris [LHX] contracts to develop Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW) capable modems under a $500 million-ceiling, Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity contract.

In a Boeing-issued statement on March 16,  Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, SSC’s tactical SATCOM division chief, said that the PTS-P program has made “great progress” and that SSC has asked “all industry partners to move fast — to build, iterate, demonstrate, and improve performance, so we can deploy much faster than we typically would.”

“This design review demonstrates we’re on track to deliver new communication capabilities to the warfighter,” she said of the SSC CDR of the Boeing blueprint.

Boeing said that its PTS-P “features an on-board processor of PTW,” a processor that provides military forces with theater resistance to jamming and with network routing “that exceeds objective requirements.”

“Scheduled for on-orbit demonstration after a 2024 launch, the prototype payload showcases PTS-P’s improved stand-off distance performance, reduced latency, and other mission-enabling capabilities that enable the warfighter in a modern battlefield,” per Boeing. “Host vehicle integration and testing will begin next year.”

Boeing’s Millenium Space Systems subsidiary is aiding the rapid prototyping and demonstrations segments of PTS-P.

“To date, the Boeing team has completed several capability demonstrations and design reviews, including validating interoperability with government-furnished Protected Anti-Jam Tactical SATCOM (PATS) hardware and software components,” Boeing said on March 16.

By press time on March 16, SSC had not responded to a query on when the CDRS for the Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman PTS-P designs are scheduled.

The PATS program has used rapid prototyping/middle-tier acquisition authority, granted by Congress in Section 804 of the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. PATS has also benefited from collaboration with the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC), an incubator for space innovation efforts through rapid prototyping. Funded through DoD Other Transaction Authority (OTA), SpEC has more than 400 members.

Section 804 and SpeC have enabled competitive prototyping for PATS “early in the program,” Thompson said. “It’s a prototyping-centric approach that builds out the best solutions, while getting capabilities on-orbit years ahead of traditional contracting and development timelines.”

Please attribute the answers to:  Mr. Justin Bruner, Materiel Leader for Protected Tactical SATCOM

 

 

Q3 – I believe that Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are also competing for PTS-P. When are CDRs for those companies scheduled?

  • Northrop Grumman completed its CDR on 7 Oct 2021.
  • Lockheed Martin did not complete a CDR.  On 31 Mar 2021, the Space Systems Command selected Boeing and Northrop Grumman to each complete design, build, test, and ultimately launch one payload for on-orbit demonstration and residual operations.