WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has awarded Raytheon Network Centric Systems of Marlborough, Mass., a $34 million contract modification to continue developing a secure military satellite terminal system, according to a July 1 release from the Defense Department.

The contract is part of a two-company competition to develop the Family of Beyond Line of Sight-Terminals (FAB-T), which will be used in conjunction with the Air Force’s highly secure communications satellites to enable the president to talk with staff and military commanders under the worst of conditions, including nuclear war. Raytheon and Boeing Network and Space Systems of Arlington, Va., are developing competing FAB-T terminals.

Boeing was the original prime contractor on FAB-T but struggled, prompting the Air Force — after the program suffered major delays and cost overruns — to restructure the company’s contract into a fixed-price arrangment last year. A short time later the service awarded Raytheon a $70 million contract to develop a competing FAB-T design.

The contract modification will allow Raytheon to continue developing transportable command post terminals with presidential and national voice conferencing, the Defense Department said. The work is expected to be completed by October.

The Air Force expects to award two FAB-T production readiness planning later contracts this summer, according to the service’s 2014 budget request. A downselect for FAB-T production is anticipated in December.

Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...