Intelsat has started building a replacement for its 805 satellite in the Atlantic Ocean region that will host a UHF payload intended for U.S Navy, Defence, and NATO users.
The company said [PDF] the Intelsat 27 satellite (IS-27) would have a hybrid C- and Ku-band design and would "be augmented with a 20 x 25 kHz channel UHF payload" for military communications.
The satellite was expected to be launched by December 2012.
The satellite's UHF payload would "build upon [Intelsat's] current program with the Australian Defence Force," according to Intelsat's vice president of hosted payloads Don Brown.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) previously bought a UHF payload on another yet-to-be-launched Intelsat satellite, IS-22, that was scheduled for launch in 2012 [PDF].
The ADF then exercised an option in April this year to buy the full UHF payload on the IS-22 satellite at a total cost of $475.1 million.
That announcement coincided with an agreement between the US and Australia to "share their narrowband UHF communications resources."
The need for IS-27
Intelsat said that the US Navy submitted a UHF augmentation plan to US Congress back in March that noted a "commercially hosted UHF payload" as one solution to mitigate a shortfall in UHF capability.
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) - effectively the Navy's ICT authority - "issued a Sources Sought notice to industry requesting solutions for UHF augmentation" in May.
"The requirements outlined in the Sources Sought were at the forefront of our payload design process [for IS-27]," Intelsat's president Kay Sears said.
"Intelsat's payload will arrive at a critical time and location to sustain warfighter communications.
"Our intended customers for this payload are the Navy and DoD tactical users, as well as NATO and other allies."