Airbus Defense and Space has secured a contract for the provision of services related to hosting US Air Force (USAF) communications systems onboard commercially operated satellites.

The firm fixed-price indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract features a five-year ordering period and has maximum potential value of $500m.

The contract pre-qualifies Airbus to submit proposals for hosted payloads, which is a business model designed to provide government customers with more rapid access to space for their programmes and missions without the costs associated with buying or leasing an entire spacecraft.

Airbus Defense and Space president Michael Cosentino said: "As a major satellite manufacturer and commercial operator, Airbus Defense and Space is well-positioned to offer the USAF and other US Government customers affordable and dependable access to space for both geostationary and low earth orbit hosted payloads."

Airbus Defense and Space US Government satellite communications unit president Ed Spitler said: "This is a great opportunity for Airbus Defense and Space to leverage its expertise in support of critical US space missions.

"Work under the contract is scheduled to be complete by January 2029."

"Over the past two decades, Airbus Defense and Space has facilitated more than 30 hosted payload programmes worldwide and for US Government organisations, including the Federal Aviation Authority, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, National Research Laboratories and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

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Managed by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Developmental Planning Directorate, the contract covers multiple deliveries, including fully functioning on-orbit hosted payload systems, along with integrated ground system equipment and interfaces.

Work under the contract is scheduled to be complete by January 2029.

As well as the latest contract, the company also holds multiple future commercial satellite communications contract awards that are jointly managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency and the General Services Administration.

The contracts enable the company to provide US Government and military customers with access to its entire portfolio of transponded capacity and fixed and mobile subscription services.

Defence Technology