WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department on May 14 arranged for access to capacity aboard a Eutelsat satellite to support operations in Afghanistan, according to a June 2 posting on the U.S. government’s Federal Business Opportunities website.
U.S. Central Command has a new requirement for 72 megahertz of Ku-band satellite capacity, which will be provided by Eutelsat’s W6 satellite, located at 21.5 degrees east longitude, the posting said. The contract has a base period of 12 months, with one nine-month option and two six-month options. The value of the contract was not announced.
Paris-based Eutelsat is a major supplier of satellite bandwidth to the Pentagon, particularly in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Demand for Ku-band capacity is particularly high in the region to support U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, notably for commanding and downlinking video data from unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Defense Department spends an estimated $750 million a year on commercial satellite capacity.
As with most of the commercial satellite bandwidth used by the Pentagon, the Eutelsat capacity was bought via the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Defense Satellite Transmission Services — Global (DSTS-G) contract. Eutelsat was deemed the only satellite operator to have the required capacity available in the region, and thus a competition among satellite operators was not held, the posting said.
The contract is not awarded directly to Eutelsat but rather to one of the three companies — referred to as integrators since they do not operate satellites — that buy capacity on behalf of the Pentagon via the DSTS-G contracting vehicle. The Pentagon announcement did not identify which of the three integrators — Artel, CapRock Government Solutions or DRS Technical Services — is arranging the Eutelsat capacity.