HERNDON, VA, March 2018 – The United States Air Force (USAF) awarded Artel its Commercial Satellite Communications (COMSATCOM) Pathfinder #2 contract (PF2). PF2 is the second contract award in the COMSATCOM Pathfinder program series. The goal of the program is to take advantage of new buying methods for COMSATCOM services that satisfy heightened security requirements. It is anticipated that the Pathfinder program will realize significant cost savings over traditional short-term leasing options. The Air Force has developed a series of COMSATCOM pathfinders each addressing a number of potential risks as the Air Force learns how to buy and contract for more affordable, higher performing and more mission assured/flexible COMSATCOM services.
PF2 calls for one or more full Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) Ku-Band transponder(s) with contiguous United States coverage on a pre-launch satellite. In total, the transponder(s) will comprise at least 72 MHz of bandwidth, with each transponder providing at least 36 MHz of contiguous bandwidth. The United States Government (USG) owns the transponder(s) for the lifetime of the satellite on which the transponder(s) are carried. The contractor shall operate the satellite on which the transponder(s) are carried.
In response to PF2, Artel assembled a team to include satellite operator Hispasat and satellite bandwidth provider and hosted payload development expert Hunter Communications. The Artel Team created an innovative solution that uses the spectrum of three existing transponders on the Amazonas-2 satellite to form a single 108-MHz transponder on its replacement Amazonas-6, materially enhancing the value to the Air Force. In addition, the transponder will comply with government-specified enhancements related to heightened security requirements. The transponder will have a life expectancy of 15 years and will be available for use by the end of 2022.