By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON, March 4 The Pentagon's 2015 budget
request includes $7.2 billion for satellites and other
space-based programs but saves $2.1 billion over the next five
years by scrapping plans for two Lockheed Martin Corp
The fiscal 2015 budget, which would postpone other purchases
and launch a new program to replace aging weather satellites,
reflects recent efforts by the U.S. Air Force to develop more
resilient systems to augment the large-scale satellites it has
built in the past.
The two Lockheed Martin satellites are the seventh and
eighth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites that
Lockheed was slated to build.
The Air Force said it planned to postpone work on two Global
Positioning System III satellites, also to be built by Lockheed,
until after fiscal 2019, since the GPS satellites already in
orbit were lasting longer than forecast.
The service said it was exploring a different approach to
satellite communications and overhead infrared monitoring, with
the goal of making satellite systems more flexible, responsive
and cheaper, while replacing obsolete technology.
The Pentagon said the 2015 budget would start detailed
design studies of the Space Based Infrared System satellite
program run by Lockheed, as well as programs aimed at reducing
software and hardware risks.
The budget also kicks off a new program to replace the aging
Defense Meteorological Satellite program, focusing on smaller
satellites and hosted payloads that are less expensive to build
and launch, and would put a bigger focus on partnerships with
other countries and other institutions.
"The Weather System Follow-On (WSF) will be comprised of a
group of systems to provide timely, reliable, and high-quality
space-based remote sensing capabilities," the Air Force said.
Details about the Air Force's acquisition plans were not
immediately available, but the decision to fund a more
"disaggregated" approach spells good news for companies like
Harris Corp and Exelis Inc and others that have
been pressing the Air Force to move in this direction.
The Pentagon's fiscal 2015 budget also resumes work on a new
Space Fence, a ground-based system of radars that tracks objects
in space. Raytheon Co and Lockheed had competed for a
contract to build it, but the contract award had been delayed
from fiscal 2013 to this year.