Raytheon vs. Lockheed: Duel for control of Space Force satellites

The United States Space Force has chosen teams led by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin to develop ground control systems for its future secure communications satellites in a competition that promises advances in technology and resilience.

Space Force: The Battle for GRIFFON

On May 2, the Space Force announced that it would award $30 million to each team to develop competing designs for the GRIFFON (Ground Resilient Integration and Framework for Operational Nuclear Command, Control and Communication) system. These systems will operate the next generation of Evolved Strategic Communications Satellites designed to withstand nuclear attack.

The teams of defense contractors and software companies will have 18 months to conduct prototype demonstrations. The objective is to design software applications that are integrated into a “cyber-resilient architecture,” working closely with the operators that will use the capacity.

Lt. Col. Laila Barasha, GRIFFON’s Chief Material Officer, highlighted the importance of modular software acquisition and the flexibility this provides to respond to user needs.

Budget and expectations

The requested budget for the fiscal year 2024 includes $216 million earmarked for this effort, funding ground system prototyping and a classified development environment.

Delivering satellite ground systems like GRIFFON on time is a priority for the Space Force, which has struggled to keep software programs on schedule and at cost estimates.

An example of this is the Next Generation Operational Control Segment (OCX), which has suffered delays in its development. The Space Force has set a new schedule for completing the project.

The way to follow

Frank Calvelli, the service’s director of acquisitions, stressed at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Strategic Forces that the strategy for facilitating the delivery of ground capabilities involves developing programs in segments rather than large complex systems.

Calvelli suggested using cloud computing environments, which provide a backbone for connecting systems and leveraging business computing applications, as a possible solution to improve efficiency in developing these projects.