Boeing, Lockheed to study laser tech

The Air Force this week awarded contracts worth $471 million each to Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. to study the military's laser communications concept.

Air Force officials want Boeing and Lockheed to determine the hardware and software needed for laser communications and satellite processors and routers. The officials also want the two companies to perform program management and systems engineering for a satellite operations center in space and system gateway hubs in the United States, said a Jan. 22 Defense Department contracts statement.

Boeing officials will conduct the work at their El Segundo, Calif., facility and Lockheed at their Sunnyvale, Calif., plant. Air Force officials started the procurement in August and completed contract negotiations in December, the DOD statement said.

The multiyear, multibillion dollar Transformational Communications System program involves satellites that use lasers to more quickly move DOD voice, video and data information. The program is crucial to the department's evolving network-centric warfare strategy, said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute, a think tank located in Arlington, Va.

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