U.S. Air Force Awards $26 Million Extension to Harris Satellite-control Support Contract

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WASHINGTON — Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Florida, will continue to maintain U.S. Air Force satellite operations facilities under a one-year contract extension valued at $26 million, according to an announcement posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website Oct. 6.

The extension comes as the Air Force considers how to best operate and maintain the sprawling Air Force Satellite Control Network, which features seven facilities located around the world and is widely viewed as antiquated and badly in need of modernization. Centered at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado, the network is staffed by Air Force personnel with support from contractors.

Harris’ Network and Space Operations and Maintenance Contract is one of several satellite control network contracts being eyed for consolidation as the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center copes with shrinking budgets. As currently planned, the CAMMO — short for Consolidated Air Force Satellite Control Network Modifications, Maintenance and Operations — contract also would incorporate the Air Force Satellite Control Network Contract, currently held by Honeywell Technology Solutions Inc. of Columbia, Maryland; and the Engineering Development and Sustainment contract, now held by Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions of Herndon, Virginia.

The three contracts cover most of the activities associated with operating a large portion of the Air Force’s satellite fleet, including data uplink and downlink, command and control, communications, software and testing.

A formal request for proposals for the CAMMO contract is expected Dec. 2, with an award to follow around Sept. 30, 2015. The Harris contract extension will serve as a bridge to that award.

Even as it proceeds with the consolidation plan, however, the Air Force is considering alternatives that include outsourcing some satellite operations and reducing the footprint of its existing network. In September, for example, the Air Force issued study contracts to four companies to examine how they might pick up the slack should the service elect to shutter one or more of its satellite operating facilities.

CAMMO is not the only space-related network consolidation program being pursued by the Air Force. The long-awaited award of a multibillion-dollar contract to consolidate maintenance and support of the service’s two main launch ranges is imminent, according to Air Force officials.

The latest potential consolidation candidates are the operating contracts for the Solid State Phased Array Radar System, which provides missile warning and space surveillance capabilities at five sites, and the Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterization Systems (PARCS) at Cavalier Air Force Station in North Dakota, according to the Federal Business Opportunities website. The Air Force has used the PARCS system to bolster its space surveillance capabilities after closing the Air Force Space Surveillance System in 2013.

The Solid State Phased Array Radar System, operated by BAE Systems Aerospace Services of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, includes facilities at Cape Cod Air Force Station, Massachusetts; Beale Air Force Base, California; Clear Air Force Station, Alaska; Thule Air Base, Greenland; and the Royal Air Force Fylingdales facility in the United Kingdom. The radars track more than 16,000 objects and makes as many as 40,000 observations daily.

In March, BAE received a three-year contract extension to maintain radars used for missile warning and space surveillance from 2016 to 2018.