Loral Space and Communications announced that the US Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) has awarded a Space Systems/ Loral (SS/L) team, led by Raytheon, a $40 M Component Advanced Development (CAD) contract to develop the US Navy's $6 B, next-generation, satellite-based mobile communications system, the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS).

CAD is a 14-month effort aimed at reducing risk and advancing system design concepts that stem from MUOS' recently completed 1999-to-2002 Concept Exploration Phase (CEP). SPAWAR tapped the Raytheon-SS/L team for CAD based on the team performance during the earlier CEP program. The latest award reflects SPAWAR's selection of two teams, which will work in parallel until 2004, when one team will be selected to lead future MUOS efforts.

SS/L is part of a Raytheon-led team that also includes TRW Astro Aerospace and Honeywell. The two teams have been funded by SPAWAR to compete for a system design and development contract to be awarded in January 2004, for construction of the first MUOS satellite, which will be launched in 2008. Subsequently, the MUOS Program Production and Deployment contract will be awarded in mid-2006 and continue through 2023. As part of the newly awarded development program, SS/L will be adapting its highly successful commercial 1300 spacecraft platform for the MUOS narrowband tactical communications System.

"The combination of SS/L's heritage satellite bus with the payload technology and expertise of our team members provides our government with cost-effective improvements in its satellite communications Systems," said C. Patrick DeWitt, president of SS/L. "MUOS will ensure its users an uninterrupted communication link, without concern for the location, weather or local geography."

MUOS will be a narrow band satellite communication (SATCOM) system that supports a worldwide, multi-service/multi-national population of mobile and fixed-site war fighter terminals. Its capabilities will provide a considerable increase in throughput over the current Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Follow-on (UFO) narrow band satellite communications system. It will also provide greater flexibility through improved link performance for users such as Navy Seals and other special forces to operate in difficult environments. SS/L MUOS design is based on the company's space-proven 1300 geostationary satellite platform, which has an excellent record of reliable operation and is highly adaptable to a wide variety of payloads. Over the past 45 years, SS/L satellites have amassed well over 900 years of on-orbit services.