Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, discusses the new Department of Defense communications satellites outlined in the omnibus spending bill, and how they will impact the private SATCOM industry.
Much to the surprise of industry, the Department of Defense’s budget for 2018 includes funds for building and launching two wide-band communications satellites. The sudden influx of money means that the Pentagon will continue operating its own communications satellites into the near future. “These two additional wide‑band global SATCOM satellites, they were not in earlier marks of the bills in Congress. They are not something DoD requested. They kind of just came out of the blue when the omnibus came out. I guess that when cash was flush, Congress was looking for places to put the money,” said Todd Harrison, Director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. Harrison said that these new DoD orbiters might be bad news for the satellite communications providers that rely upon government contracts. “The more DoD owns its own wide-band satellites, it is taking away some of the business it could have given to commercial industry,” Harrison told Government Matters. “I think a lot of commercial industry, commercial SATCOM providers, they look at DoD as basically an anchor customer. A customer that will be there and give them some assured level of business and then they can go out and look for other customers on top of that.”