Iridium Awarded U.S. Navy Contract for DTCS Development

Iridium Satellite LLC (Iridium) announces that the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren has awarded one of its subsidiaries a $21,688,808 indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity cost-type contract to support development and delivery of the Distributed Tactical Communications System (DTCS). DTCS is an extension of “Netted Iridium,” the company’s push-to-talk communications capability. DTCS will provide over-the-horizon, on-the-move, beyond line-of-sight netted voice and data communications over the Iridium network for the tactical warfighter.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has been testing Phase One Netted technologies since 2006. The Navy awarded Iridium the five-year contract on June 4, 2009, marking “Phase Two” of Netted technologies development. The DTCS team also includes ITT Corporation and The Boeing Company. ITT Corporation is leading the effort to design, develop and produce the DTCS tactical radio, along with design, development and installation of the DTCS ground-based management system. The Boeing Company is updating software for the Iridium satellite fleet, as well as performing systems integration and testing.

“Iridium is pleased that, after extensive end-user evaluations of the Netted Iridium platform with hundreds of warfighters using it in diverse and austere environments, our DoD customers found DTCS to be valuable enough to warrant the next phase of development,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. John Campbell, executive vice president, Government Programs, Iridium. “We understand there is an unfulfilled need to provide mission-critical, tactical comms-on-the-move, and we are proud to join our industry and government partners to provide this capability for our warfighters. As the single truly global mobile satellite services (MSS) provider, only Iridium can provide a netted solution anywhere in the world.”

The DoD also selected DTCS as the number two candidate for a 2009 Joint Concept Technology Demonstration, further indicating its strong interest in the service.

“Since Desert Storm, we’ve had an unsatisfied requirement for C2 OTM (command and control on-the-move) and no material solution to date has had such great potential in filling that requirement across such a broad spectrum as Netted Iridium does,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Bowman, U.S. Central Command J-6. “In my opinion, Netted Iridium will be the most significant tactical communications improvement developed and fielded during the global war on terror.”

DTCS development has proceeded in two phases. Iridium and the DoD developed Phase One under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between industry and the Navy. Funded by industry, it provided a capability used for concept-based experimentation by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, Va. It proved that Iridium could enhance its satellite network to support a multicast architecture for tactical, netted voice and data communications. In Phase Two, Iridium will enhance its satellite network further with on-orbit software upgrades in addition to making ground infrastructure enhancements. These changes will expand the footprint of the DTCS communication “nets” and significantly increase the number of nets available to the DoD. In addition, the DTCS program will include development of a ruggedized Iridium tactical radio to further meet the needs of warfighters in the environments they face. Early prototypes and initial production devices have garnered positive feedback from warfighters in theater today.