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Pentagon budget 2024: Satcom coffers see increase, GPS funds cut

A ULA Delta IV rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex-37 At Cape Canaveral, Florida, with the US Air Force's ninth Wideband Global satcom satellite. (ULA)

Pentagon budget officials are seeking a significant increase in investment to its satellite communications (satcom) portfolio in fiscal year (FY) 2024, while opting to pare back proposed spending for Global Positioning System (GPS) programmes for the US Armed Forces.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is poised to funnel USD4.7 billion in federal dollars into research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E), as well as procurement of advanced satcom capabilities at the tactical level, as part of the department's FY 2024 budget blueprint released on 13 March. The request represents a USD1.1 billion increase compared with the USD3.6 billion requested for FY 2023.

A major share of that request – if approved by the US Congress – will go towards RDT&E efforts, specifically financing the future Protected Tactical Satcom (PTS) system, according to a 13 March summary document of the Pentagon's FY 2024 request.

The USD4.7 billion satcom spending proposal was part of the DoD's total USD315 billion FY 2024 request for major weapons systems, according to the summary. That USD315 billion is part of the department's total FY 2024 request of USD842 billion – which is USD10 billion less than the total Pentagon funding figure requested for FY 2023.

The PTS system is part of the larger Protected Tactical Enterprise Service (PTES) initiative being led by the US Space Force (USSF). The PTES effort is designed to develop “the ground infrastructure [for] the Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW) advanced anti-jam satcom capability, existing military wideband satellites, and commercial satcom systems”, the summary documents said.

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