WASHINGTON — Satellite fleet operator Xtar on March 5 said it is hiring a senior executive from satellite ground equipment company Comtech to replace President and Chief Operating Officer Philip Harlow.

Jay Icard Star Comtech
Jay Icard, Xtar’s new president and CEO. Credit: Xtar
Jay Icard, Xtar’s new president and CEO. Credit: Xtar

Harlow’s successor is Jay Icard, a 13-year Comtech employee who most recently worked as  senior vice president of strategic sales for the company’s Command & Control Technologies division.

Harlow, who is departing after eight years leading Ashburn, Virginia-based Xtar, will work with the company to ensure a smooth transition.

“XTAR is in good hands with Jay,” Harlow said in a statement. “His industry experience, energy and dedication are a great fit for driving the company.”

Xtar operates a telecom satellite called Xtar-Eur, with coverage over Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and a payload of transponders on shareholder Hisdesat’s Spainsat spacecraft under the name Xtar-Lant. The company provides communications services to governments primarily using X-band — a spectrum type reserved largely for military telecom.

Xtar-Eur and Xtar-Lant — which have been in orbit since 2005 and 2006, respectively — are still expected to last until mid-2021, Xtar said in October.

In a November interview, Harlow said Xtar is planning replacements now with more capacity, and anticipates support from the Spanish government, a current customer, to fund new satellites.

Caleb Henry is a former SpaceNews staff writer covering satellites, telecom and launch. He previously worked for Via Satellite and NewSpace Global.He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science along with a minor in astronomy from...