Executives Say Pentagon Should Add Leasing Options for Commercial Satellites

Site: Defense.gov

The Defense Department is currently on short-term leases for many commercial satellites, but industry executives are suggesting the Pentagon could benefit from additional leasing options it is yet to pursue, Defense Systems reports.

Richard DalBellow, Intelsat vice president for legal and government affairs, said at Tuesday’s Satelllite 2012 conference that alternate procurement methods could yield cost efficiencies.

DalBellow said the Pentagon should consider leasing satellites for all or part of their operational life.

Another solution would be to use hosted payloads by either attaching a government-built payload to a commercial spacecraft or the other way around, DalBellow said.

James Simpson, Boeing business development vice president for satellite systems, suggested the Pentagon should follow commercial-style procurements or a hybrid between commercial and government procurement styles.

He said the Pentagon could also lease commercial bandwidth in order to achieve mission success more effectively, according to Defense Systems.

Eric Spittle, vice president for U.S. government strategic development at Loral Space Systems, said there are large cost differences between commercial and military satellites.

Spittle said contract goals resulting from cost factors lead the Pentagon to adopt unproven technologies that need additional development after an agreement is already signed.

U.S. Space CEO Craig Weston said the Pentagon should continue using satellites that are built and financed by private companies because it is a trusted and low-risk strategy.

This approach is beneficial for weather satellites, Weston said.

Weston said commercial alternatives guarantee launch schedules and allow the Pentagon to avoid making large initial investments which sits well with the current government-wide budget cuts.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. William Donahue, now a Xtrar consultant, told attendees that creating a separate budget line for satellite communications and a managed services model would be more beneficial than leasing satellites.

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