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Navy to transfer future satcom programs to Air Force

By
Sommer Brokaw
An artist's rendering of a U.S. Navy Mobile User Objective System satellite in space. Military officials announced Tuesday that responsibility for narrowband satellite communication programs will be transferred from the Navy to the Air Force. File Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin
An artist's rendering of a U.S. Navy Mobile User Objective System satellite in space. Military officials announced Tuesday that responsibility for narrowband satellite communication programs will be transferred from the Navy to the Air Force. File Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

May 30 (UPI) -- The Navy will transfer responsibility for future narrowband satellite communications to the Air Force, a joint memo said.

The Air Force is currently in charge of most Department of Defense satellite acquisitions, but the Navy is responsible for Ultra-High Frequency narrowband satellite communications. The transfer does not impact the Mobile User Objective System constellation of UHF narrowband satellite communications that the Navy now operates and manages, but will impact narrowband satcom programs in the future.

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"To prepare for the future alignment of space programs, it is our intent to transfer responsibility for future narrowband capability, beyond the Mobile User Objective System, from the Department of Navy to the Department of the Air Force," Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a memorandum Tuesday.

The transfer is in line with President Donald Trump's goal to consolidate military responsibilities with the establishment of the Space Force.

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"While planning for the establishment of a Space Force is underway, the Military Departments can begin to meet the president's intent by consolidating the responsibility for certain capabilities immediately, and enable the development of an integrated space enterprise architecture," the memo obtained by Space News said.

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The realignment means that the Air Force budget will have to accommodate these programs in the future.

Days earlier the House Appropriations Committee suggested the Air Force should manage all satcom systems in its report that accompanied the 2020 defense funding bill.

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Wilson announced in March she would resign May 31, to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso, so accepting transfer of responsibility for future satcom programs is one of her final acts.

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