U.S. Navy Transfers Responsibility for Future Narrowband Satellite Communications to Air Force

The U.S. Department of the Navy has transferred the responsibility for future narrowband satellite communications to the Department of the Air Force.

The transfer was announced by Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer in a memorandum dated May 28.

“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 the Navy to the Department of the Air Force,” Wilson and Spencer said in the memo. “Completing this transfer now would be a prudent step toward consolidating space capabilities, consistent with Space Policy Directive-4.”

This announcement will not affect the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) UHF narrowband satellite constellation currently operated by the Navy. The MUOS satellites are managed by the Navy Program Executive Office for Space under the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in San Diego, California.

The president’s Space Policy Directive-4 directed the Department of Defense to submit a legislative proposal for the establishment of a Space Force as a new military service within the Department of the Air Force and this plan is to meet the President’s intent, the memo stated.

The transfer also address concerns raised by Congress and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about the alignment of major space programs. In the near future, all major defense satellite programs will be located within the Air Force budget and satellite communications will be developed as an integrated architecture.

The memo calls for the establishment of a working group that will report on the joint force requirements, required resources and identification of risk areas and mitigation for a successful transfer of responsibility.

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