Space Situational Awareness Key To USAF’s Fiscal 2014 Plan

By Amy Butler
Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

Morin boasts $1 billion in cost avoidance by purchasing two Lockheed Martin Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites in one “bulk” buy. The Air Force and Lockheed Martin are negotiating a definitized price for the purchase of AEHFs 5 and 6, but a letter contract issued in December is not to exceed $2.42 billion. AEHF is the first program applied to the efficient space procurement (ESP) program, which calls for contracting for multiple satellites in one deal to take advantage of economic order quantities and stability in the industry. The Air Force is requesting $652.5 million in fiscal 2014 for AEHF, including $272.9 million in development costs. This covers a portion of the two-satellite buy over the course of several years.

Contract negotiations

Next up for contract negotiations is Lockheed Martin’s Space-Based Infrared System (Sbirs). Both Sbirs and AEHF were troubled development programs that cost billions more dollars than planned and delivered years late. By applying ESP practices to Sbirs and planning for a bulk buy of space vehicles 5 and 6 together, Morin said he hopes to save $500 million compared to buying the missile warning spacecraft singly. “There is a potential for significantly more than that” in the future for Sbirs, Morin says.

The service is asking for $964 million for Sbirs in fiscal 2014, including $352.5 million in development funding.

The Air Force’s $698.9 million request for Lockheed Martin’s GPS III program covers the buy of space vehicles 7 and 8 as well as long-lead parts for satellites 9 and 10. The Air Force is devising a procurement strategy for GPS III vehicles 9 and beyond; they are slated to include an improvement to the search-and-rescue payload as well as the ability to “dual-launch” two GPS IIIs on a single Atlas V booster.

Negotiations between the Air Force and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) are ongoing for the next buy of 36-50 Atlas V and Delta IV rocket cores. The Air Force is requesting $1.881 billion in fiscal 2014, including funding for the first five cores of this multi-rocket buy. This account also includes a conversion to the RL10C universal upper stage for the Atlas V and Delta IV as well as activities to support requests to certify competitors to ULA, including Space Explorations Technologies and Orbital Sciences.

Though Air Force officials are conducting preliminary studies to craft a next-generation weather satellite constellation, no funds are in the fiscal 2014 budget to begin work on it soon. Air Force Space Command chief Gen. William Shelton is pushing for an improved Space Fence and Jspoc first.