Iridium wins $30M US Army R&D contract
McLean, VA-based Iridium Communications Inc. announced on June 24 it has been awarded a research and development (R&D) contract worth up to $30 million by the United States Army (Army) to develop a payload to be hosted on small satellites that supports navigation systems, guidance and control for the global positioning system (GPS) and GPS-denied precision systems. The new experimental Iridium payload is intended to be hosted by another Low Earth Orbit (LEO) commercial satellite constellation, complementing the Iridium® constellation’s capabilities.
Through this contract the Army intends to develop this payload to support the concept of a rapidly deployable smallsat constellation to provide more effective sensor-to-soldier data transmission when in the field. The development of this new payload is based on Iridium Burst technology, a unique service that can transmit data to millions of enabled devices at a time from space.
“Iridium has always been focused on providing innovative, reliable and high-value services to the U.S. warfighter,” said Scott Scheimreif, executive vice president, government programs, Iridium. “This program can help add to warfighter readiness to conduct a full range of military operations at a tactical level. This includes the ability to enhance effectiveness of military units, weapons and equipment during combat against near-peer adversaries.”
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Iridium have partnered for more than 20 years, with hundreds of thousands of U.S. government subscribers utilizing Iridium push-to-talk (PTT), voice, IoT, L-band broadband and Iridium Burst services. The continuing growth in adoption of Iridium services also brings increased collaboration between the government and Iridium’s ecosystem of partners, that bring their knowledge to help further complement and advance the DoDs SATCOM capabilities. For this contract, Iridium partners Satelles and SEAKR will bring their expertise as subcontractors to assist with development.
“This is one of the largest engineering contracts in Iridium’s history, and we’re pleased to once again bring the value of Iridium and our partner ecosystem to the fore at the request of the United States Army,” said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. “It also represents another phase in the evolution of our growing relationship with the DoD, and we’re excited to engage on this experimental multi-constellation adaptation of our service.”
This research and development project was enabled through an “Other Transaction Agreement” (OTA) in support of the Army and was entered into between Advanced Technology International (ATI) and Iridium under the authority of the Aviation and Missile Technology Consortium (AMTC). The OTA was developed through the authority of the Department of Defense to carry out these types of prototype projects and to further streamline the process for adopting new technology solutions from various industries.