Budget boosts spending on Defense communications

Pentagon scales back Future Combat and Tactical Satellite systems.

The Defense Department plans to spend $10.5 billion on command, control, communications and computer systems (C4) and $3.5 billion on communications satellite programs, according to the Obama administration's budget proposal released on Thursday.

Defense did not provide comparable figures for C4 spending in fiscal 2009, but budget documents show the Pentagon asked for a 12 percent increase for the Joint Tactical Radio System, which is developing a family of software-based radios for the military services, from $946.9 million to $1.06 billion.

The Army asked for $738.4 million for its terrestrial broadband battlefield communications network, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, a 30 percent decrease from the previous year's request of $1.04 billion in 2009. The funding cut reflects the fact that the service has almost completed fielding the network.

The Army requested $135 million for the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio program, the primary radio systems ground forces use. That is a 28 percent decrease from $187 million in 2009.

Defense canceled the manned vehicle portion the Army's Future Combat Systems program, but intends to continue with development of the FCS unmanned ground and aerial vehicle and sensor system networks. The Army requested $2.98 billion for FCS C4 systems in 2010, down 17 percent from $3.60 billion in 2009.

The Defense budget zeroed out funding for even a slimmed down version of the long delayed Tactical Satellite Communications System. Office of Management and Budget Director Peter R. Orszag said at a news briefing on Thursday that procuring additional Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellites will provide Defense with the communications capability it needs at a lower cost than TSAT.

OMB estimated it will save $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion through 2015 by procuring AEHF satellites instead of TSATs. Defense budgeted $2.30 billion for the AEHF program in 2010, up 318 percent from $552 million in 2009.

Defense requested a $903.6 million budget line for its narrow band Mobile User Objective System satellite in 2010, up 5 percent from $858.2 million. The 2010 budget covers the development and procurement cost of the fourth narrowband satellite as well as buying long lead items for the fifth satellite in the system.

The 2010 budget request for the Wideband Global Satellite System, which transmits data at gigabit speeds, is $335.1 million, up 355 percent from $73.7 million in 2009, and will support on-orbit testing of the second and third satellites in the constellation and production of another three.