Umbra announced July 14 that its first synthetic aperture radar satellite's antenna successfully deployed in orbit. The patented antenna is comprised of a series of ribs attached to a central hub that opens to deploy the reflector. Cedit: Umbra

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Air Force awarded indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts to 29 companies including Umbra, Kymeta, Hughes Network Systems and Hypergiant Galactic Systems to support the Defense Department’s campaign to ensure sensors from all the services feed data into a common network.

The 29 companies will compete for portions of a Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) contract with a $950 million ceiling. The minimum award for each vendor selected is $1,000.

While the value of the JADC2 contract for individual companies remains unclear, startups like Umbra, which launched its first synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite June 30, and Hypergiant, a firm focused on artificial intelligence for enterprises, see it as a vote of confidence.

“The contract vehicle has a lot of potential and is a great opportunity for Umbra,” Umbra co-founder Gabe Dominocielo said by email. “The initial award is small compared to our other government contracts but this is a positive signal and it offers an avenue for the government to get familiar with our capabilities.”

Hypergiant founder Ben Lamm, said the award was recognition of the firm’s “sky-high potential for our team to push DoD capability even further into the future.” Hypergiant is “honored to have been selected to play a unique role” in the foundation of the JADC2 program,” Lamm said in a statement.

The Pentagon’s JADC2 strategy, approved by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in May, highlights the importance of artificial intelligence to analyze data and imagery as well as space-based communications to transmit them.

Indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts give the Air Force more flexibility than individual contracts with a specific dollar value.

“Simply put, ID/IQ affords us the opportunity to “listen first” before obligating large sums to companies; this approach to awarding contracts is meant to establish an open and fair competition phase for maturing technologies,” Air Force spokesman Capt. Jacob Bailey said by email.

Work under the JADC2 contract is scheduled to be completed by May 8, 2025.

“Despite the contract ceilings, spending is ultimately limited by the funding appropriated in the Air Force’s budget, not on the cumulative ceiling of a contract,” Bailey said.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...