The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is considering a long-term investment in commercial Ku- and Ka-band satellite communications capabilities to serve users in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, according to a March 15 request for information on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

U.S. Central Command currently relies on leased Ku-band capacity from more than 20 commercial satellites covering the region to support its airborne surveillance platforms and troop communications, the posting said. These capacity leases are typically for one year with several option years, and the Pentagon has been struggling to adjust to higher market prices in recent years as commercial bandwidth in the region has grown scarcer.

The Defense Information Systems Agency as early as 2012 could contract for an end-to-end commercial Ku- and Ka- capability, preferably on the same satellite, that includes terminals, the posting said. Over the life of the lease, a commercial provider would have to be able to support multiple changes of theater, it said.

The goal of the potential program is to reduce the cost of satellite communications in the region; the agency would budget about $440 million for the service, which would have to be available by the end of 2014. The potential length of the service is not specified. Responses from industry are due April 1.



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