The US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has awarded a contract to Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) for the design and development of concepts for next generation of Protected Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) systems.

The undisclosed award follows a $1.5m six-month study contract secured by the company in March 2011, for the evaluation of commercial technologies and practices for cost-effectively addressing the military communication requirements.

SS/L president John Celli said the contract provides the company with an opportunity to continue its efforts to offer cost-effective solutions based on commercial market innovation to the US government.

"Working with our industry partners, we will use domain expertise, proven military technology, and our supply chain efficiencies to quickly bring increased capability to the warfighter," Celli added.

Under the new contract, the company will design affordable solutions having shorter schedules and lower, better controlled cost to help increase the system’s defence against increasing and changing intentional jamming and cyber threats and also to provide advanced communications capability to the deployed soldiers.

The company will also help the command eliminate the existing gaps in the space communications layer, in addition to demonstrating specific design concepts that are designed to improve life-cycle affordability to address the warfighter’s communication need in the future.

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The company is planning to combine its extensive expertise in commercial satellites development together with existing military technologies to evaluate options for both space and ground segment design of the MILSATCOM systems.

The Protected MILSATCOM programme aims at development of practical new architectures and technologies to help increase protection of the US Military’s increasingly contested and threatened high security communications systems across the globe.