Like a number of defense programs, the future of the Air Force's Transformational Satellite Communications System, known simply as "TSAT," could be decided by the fiscal year 2010 budget, with a number of analysts speculating that it has a target on its head for cancellation.
The program was originally scheduled for contract award last spring, by the decision was delayed a number of times since then and ultimately was restructured as a less-complex system and a new request for proposals was released late last year.
Last week, Inside the Air Force reported that both contractors vying for the contract, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, said they had been asked by the air service to examine what alternatives to the multibillion-dollar project could be.
At a media briefing today at the National Space Symposium at Colorado Springs, CO, Gen. Robert Kehler, chief of Air Force Space Command, confirmed this report:
We have studied options, and there were a number of them on the table when we went through the last review last summer to include continuing with the existing programs of record, meaning WGS ((Wideband Global Satellite Communications system, built by Boeing)) and AEHF ((Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite system, built by Lockheed)).
Kehler said he did not know what the budget holds for TSAT or, for that matter, the Air Force's space portfolio as a whole:
I do not know what the budget decisions will be and how they will impact all of the space programs, not just TSAT. I don't know how they're going to unfold across the board. We've been asked our views, we've voiced our views, and I am very comfortable that my voice has been heard and now we have to see how the ultimate balance that the Secretary of the Air Force ((Michael Donley)) and others . . . have to make, and I don't know what they're going to decide.
-- Jason Simpson