The U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) placed contracts with Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. to supply a total of 72 data transport satellites as part of SDA’s low-Earth orbit Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA).
The Agency noted the new satellites will form Tranche 2 Transport Layer Beta (T2TL Beta), integrating with and expanding the PWSA mesh network (Tranche 1), using high-data-capacity optical crosslinks to deliver accessible, near-real time communications to U.S. warfighters and defensive platforms operating worldwide. Examples of this include “beyond-line-of-sight targeting and missile warning and missile tracking of advance missile threats.”
The total value of the new awards is approximately $1.5 billion, according to SDA.
The Space Development Agency is a U.S. Space Force unit assigned to implement space-based missile defense using global constellations made up of low-cost satellites.
The 36 satellites to be supplied by Northrop will be updated versions of its Tranche 1 design, and provide new broadcast and tactical communications capabilities to PWSA.
According to Lockheed, the 36 satellites it will deliver will work in tandem with SDA’s Tranche 1 and Tranche 2 networks to advance the initial warfighting capability with targeted technology enhancements, mission-focused payload configurations, and increased integration.“We are now solidly in the procurement phase for Tranche 2 of the PWSA to support a 2026 delivery,” explained SDA director Derek Tournear. “Tranche 2 brings global persistence for all our capabilities in Tranche 1 and adds advanced tactical data links and future proliferated missions. The Beta variant of the Tranche 2 Transport Layer vehicles are similar to Tranche 1 Transport Layer vehicles while also integrating advanced tactical communication technology demonstrated by the Tranche 1 Development and Experimentation System (T1DES).”