The US Space Force has selected Northrop Grumman to develop a Protected Tactical SATCOM (PTS) rapid prototype payload for an on-orbit demonstration of assured tactical communications.

The company secured the award from the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center through the Space Enterprise Consortium.

Northrop Grumman communications systems vice-president Cyrus Dhalla said: “Since the very first protected communications mission, Northrop Grumman has been advancing technology to stay ahead of threats and help ensure this mission-enabling capability.

“Partnering with the space force, our team will demonstrate rapid prototyping by developing and delivering a PTS payload to enhance anti-jamming capabilities for our nation’s tactical forces.”

The acquisition approach of the Space and Missile Systems Center focused on partnership with the company to define and accelerate a programme with streamlined processes, rapid prototyping, as well as non-traditional suppliers.

Northrop Grumman noted that it is leveraging four decades of developing and operating protected payloads to support next-generation protected SATCOM technology for contested environments.

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Additionally, the company is using various non-traditional suppliers to help bring innovation into the lifecycle of the programme in cybersecurity, architecture and test areas.

PTS is the next generation in operational capability for the protected communications mission and will represent the company’s capacity for rapid prototyping for quick deployment.

SATCOM provides survivable communications for presidential support and nuclear command and control. It relays the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that allow the Joint Force Commander (JFC) to understand the operating environment.

This month, the US Space Force filed its first budget request of $15.4bn for the fiscal year 2021 to build on the launch of the newest branch of the US Armed Forces.