The US Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base has awarded a $240m contract to Lockheed Martin for the development of a prototype payload.

The company will develop the payload for SMC’s next-generation Protected Tactical SATCOM (PTS) capability that connects troops with agile and jam-resistant satellite communications (SATCOM).

Lockheed Martin’s new protected payload technologies are expected to benefit soldiers.

The complete PTS system will provide protected communications to the US and coalition forces in a battlespace by deploying a constellation of dedicated geostationary satellites, commercially hosted payloads, and coalition partner satellites.

Lockheed Martin Strategic Communications Architectures director Erik Daehler said: “Teaming with non-traditional hardware and software developers has enabled the Lockheed Martin team to leapfrog communications payload capabilities.

“We are able to ‘Go Fast,’ both in technology deployment and contracting structure, due to the nature of the OTA acquisition. Our partnership with the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC) has made these non-traditional acquisitions possible.”

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SMC’s mission will start with a rapid prototyping phase for a new payload hosting the Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW).

The payloads that are fully processed will make sure that adaptive, anti-jamming communications channels are available to allied forces in a contested environment.

For prototyping, SMC is making use of other transaction authority (OTA) contracting mechanisms to provide agile development, Enterprise, Partnership, Innovation, Culture (EPIC) Speed, and an avenue for non-traditional participation.

Lockheed Martin protected military SATCOM vice-president Mike Cacheiro said: “Lockheed Martin understands how important protected communications are to our tactical warfighters deployed downrange.

“Having delivered the nation’s essential satellite communications systems, we are uniquely positioned to partner with the US Space Force to develop the next generation’s innovative, resilient and modular protected tactical SATCOM architecture.”

Last year, the company initially launched the commercial protected communications payload on Hellas Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1 (HS-4/SGS-1).

The US Air Force awarded a contract to the company in May 2015 for Combined Orbital Operations Logistics Sustainment (COOLS), which consolidated the sustainment of the AEHF, MILSTAR and DSCS III constellations in one ground system.