WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio – Space communications experts at Lockheed Martin Corp. are joining a U.S. Air Force research project to find new ways to distribute information among land, sea, and air forces quickly to support high-speed decision-making.
Officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, announced a $12.8 million order to the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas, late last month for the Defense Experimentation Using the Commercial Space Internet (DEUCSI) program.
Lockheed Martin joins Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo.; L3Harris Technologies Communication Systems-West in Salt Lake City; the Raytheon Technologies Corp. Intelligence & Space segment in McKinney, Texas; and the Northrop Grumman Information Technology Enterprise Solutions – 3 Services (ITES-3S) segment in Herndon, Va., for the DEUCSI Call 002 effort. Raytheon won its DEUCSI contract in September 2020, and L3Harris and Northrop Grumman won their contracts in December 2019.
This project seeks the ability to move and share data seamlessly among a wide variety of fixed and mobile operating locations using constantly available, high-bandwidth, beyond-line-of-sight communications.
Lockheed Martin will integrate hardware and software, conduct additional test flights, and identifies the F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft as the required aircraft for the first flight test.
DEUCSI space-based capability will be called path-agnostic communications because its users will be able to communicate reliably to any location in the world without explicitly specifying which nodes of a communication network to use.
Ball Aerospace, L3Harris, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman will seek to establish the ability to communicate with Air Force and other military platforms via several different commercial space internet constellations using common user terminal hardware elements.
The vision for path-agnostic communications is becoming possible due to the burgeoning commercial space internet, Air Force officials say. Several commercial companies plan to establish space internet constellations consisting of hundreds to thousands of satellites, each to create global internet services.
The DEUCSI program seeks to establish resilient, high-bandwidth, high-availability Air Force communications and data sharing capabilities by leveraging developing commercial space internet networks.
This approach differs radically from traditional military satellite communications programs in which the government typically specifies and funds every aspect of the program, Air Force researchers point out.
Instead, taking advantage of the commercial space internet will concentrate government efforts on the few areas that are unique to Air Force applications.
The project has three phases: establish connectivity between several Air Force sites using commercial demonstration satellites and terminals; expand connectivity to many Air Force assets by proliferating user terminals to several locations and vehicle types; and special experiments to address military-unique requirements not otherwise met by commercial space internet vendors.
For more information contact Lockheed Martin Aeronautics online at www.lockheedmartin.com; Raytheon Intelligence & Space at www.rtx.com; Ball Aerospace at www.ball.com/aerospace; L3Harris Communications Systems-West online at www.l3harris.com; Northrop Grumman ITES-3S at www.northropgrumman.com/information-technology-enterprise-solutions-3-services-ites-3s; or the Air Force Research Laboratory at www.afrl.af.mil.