House Completes Action On Milspace Spending

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives passed a finalized 2012 spending bill Dec. 16 that provides $125 million for a “follow-on” military weather satellite system while adding $326 million to the Pentagon’s $468.7 million request for its primary satellite communications system.

The 2012 Final Consolidated Appropriations Bill, which at press time was awaiting Senate approval, provides $1 trillion for various agencies including for the Defense Department for the remainder of fiscal year 2012. Most of the federal government has been operating since the fiscal year began Oct. 1 under stopgap funding measures.

The U.S. Air Force requested $445 million in 2012 for the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS), hatched following U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2010 cancellation of a civil-military system intended to provide global coverage from polar orbit. In May, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, which was prime contractor on the canceled program, a DWSS contract worth $430 million.

That contract appears to be in jeopardy. In September, Senate appropriators recommended terminating DWSS and holding a new competition for weather satellites, providing $150 million and $250 million for those purposes, respectively.

The final bill, which does not mention DWSS by name, appears to track with the Senate recommendation but provides only half the money. The legislation also provides $43 million for what it referred to as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, the civil-military program that was canceled.

The finalized bill followed the House recommendation in boosting funding for the Air Force’s Wideband Global Satcom communications system. The increased funding will go toward the ninth satellite in the series.