USS Essex at sea. Credit: U.S. Navy

WASHINGTON — Inmarsat Government bested incumbent Intelsat General and one other company in winning a contract potentially worth $450 million to provide commercial satellite connectivity to the U.S. Navy, the Pentagon announced Sept. 8.

The Defense Information Systems Agency contract, which has a one-year base period and four one-year options, calls for Inmarsat to provide connectivity to Navy ships and terminals in C-, Ku-, Ka- and X-band frequencies, the announcement said. The minimum guaranteed value of the Commercial Broadband Satellite Program Satellite Services Contract (CSSC) is $150,000, the Pentagon said.

The Navy uses commercial satellite bandwidth to augment its existing satellites and provide redundancy for the service’s critical missions. The Navy’s demand for satellite bandwidth is expected to increase dramatically in coming years.

CSSC is the follow-on contract to the Commercial Broadband Satellite Program contract won by Intelsat General in 2010. That award, with an estimated value of $543 million, drew protests from some of the losing bidders, who complained that Intelsat General had engaged in anticompetitive practices — Intelsat General’s parent company, Intelsat, operates C- and Ku-band satellites in choice orbital locations — to take home the prize.

The Government Accountability Office rejected the protests.

Three companies bid on the CSSC contract, the Pentagon said. The losing bidders were not named in the announcement, but industry sources said one of them was Intelsat General of McLean, Virginia.

Reston, Virginia-based Inmarsat Government is an arm of London-based Inmarsat, which traditionally has operated L-band satellites but recently completed deployment of a three-satellite global Ka-band constellation for broadband services. The company does not operate any C-, Ku- or X-band satellites and will have to procure these services from other operators.

Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.