May 31, 2012
Credit: Credit: USAF
The U.S. Air Force and Boeing have agreed to convert a troubled program for next-generation satellite communications terminals to a lower-risk fixed-price contract from the current cost-plus terms, both said on Wednesday.
The move lets Boeing continue work on the Family of Advanced Beyond-line-of-sight Terminal(FAB-T), which the Air Force had nearly terminated in January after development costs ballooned to $1.6 billion from $235 million.
The Air Force and Boeing began discussions about changing the contract terms earlier this year after Boeing offered to provide a “not to exceed ceiling” for the remaining development work on ground stations needed to operate new Air Force communications satellites.
The Air Force has also invited companies to submit bids for alternate systems as part of its drive to crack down on cost increases that have plagued satellite programs for over a decade.
Boeing spokesman Matthew Billingsley said the company had completed hardware qualification on the program, and expected to finish software development and systems integration this summer.
“We look forward to entering system functional qualification testing in 2013,” he said in a statement.
The Air Force provided no immediate details on the new contract terms.
The Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog, cited ongoing problems with the FAB-T program in a March report on satellite systems, noting that Pentagon officials now believed it would not be completed until 2017.
That is three years after military plans to start using the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites built by Lockheed Martin. The new terminals are being developed for those satellites.