Inmarsat wins $980 million U.S. Navy contract for global communications services

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The Navy requires Inmarsat to build a global network that is interoperable with military satellite systems and provides coverage in the Arctic region

WASHINGTON — Inmarsat Government announced Oct. 11 it won a 10-year contract worth $980 million to provide broadband satellite and terrestrial communications services to the U.S. Navy.

The contract, awarded by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), is the second iteration of the U.S. Navy Commercial Broadband Satellite Program Satellite Services Contract, known as CSSC II.

Inmarsat Government, based in Reston, Virginia, is a subsidiary of British communications satellite operator Inmarsat. The company was the incumbent on the previous CSSC I contract and won the re-compete. 

The contract is for managed telecommunications services, integrating Inmarsat Global Xpress Ka-band, as well as C-, Ku- and X-band frequencies. Navy users include units located at fixed sites, as well as mobile maritime, airborne and ground platforms. 

The agreement also covers commercial teleport services; backhaul connectivity; monitoring and control; operations; information assurance and cybersecurity.

The Navy requires Inmarsat to build a network that is interoperable with military Ka-band satellite systems, and to provide coverage in the Arctic region. That coverage will be available as early as next year when Inmarsat launches two satellites on Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ASBM). The GX Arctic payloads will be placed into highly elliptical orbits in order to get continuous coverage in areas North of the 65th parallel.

Inmarsat Government’s CEO Susan Miller said the company will integrate geostationary and non-geostationary capacity as well as highly elliptical orbit satellites. For the CSSC II contract, she said, Inmarsat has teamed up with other satellite operators, service providers and technology companies but at this time is not disclosing the names of its partners.

Award delayed by protest

The award of CSSC II was expected last year but was delayed due to a protest Inmarsat filed in February 2021 with the Government Accountability Office. 

The company protested DISA’s draft solicitation for CSSC II released in September 2020. At the time, Inmarsat held the CSSC I $450 million contract it had won in 2015. According to the protest, DISA inadvertently released Inmarsat’s CSSC I pricing information, giving competitors access to proprietary data. 

GAO in May 2021 concluded that the disclosure of Inmarsat’s detailed pricing resulted in competitive harm. DISA reissued the solicitation in July 2021.

The CSSC II award follows another 10-year deal worth $578 million won by Inmarsat Government in August to provide communications services for the U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command.

With 14 satellites currently in orbit, Inmarsat later this year expects to complete a $7.3 billion merger with global satellite operator Viasat. After Viasat’s acquisition is approved, the combined firms will operate a fleet of 19 satellites,  with an additional 10 spacecraft under construction and projected to launch within the next three years.

Viasat said the acquisition of Inmarsat will be one of the growth drivers in the combined companies’ government satcom business.