MCLEAN, Va., March 14, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren has awarded a follow-on task order, under its contract with a subsidiary of Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM), to implement Phase 3 of the Distributed Tactical Communications System (DTCS) program. Also called "Netted Iridium," DTCS handheld push-to-talk (PTT) radios use the Iridium satellite network to provide over-the-horizon, beyond line-of-sight tactical networks for warfighters on the move. There are currently 5,600 active Netted Iridium radios.
Iridium is becoming a strategic component of The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) communications toolkit. With the task order investment, valued at $13.4 million, Iridium will make further enhancements to the overall DTCS infrastructure, including the implementation of "theater-wide" or Global Reach nets, allowing greater efficiency, higher capacity and improved quality of service. Working closely with the DoD on development of new innovative technologies, this investment enables Iridium to develop prototype next-generation user equipment.
The DoD has deployed DTCS radios to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is deploying the DTCS radios through its Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services (EMSS) program management office.
"DTCS represents a real breakthrough in mobile military communications, leveraging Iridium's far-reaching global network architecture to provide critical tactical communications for warfighters in places where line-of-sight radios and satellite systems are often blocked by terrain," said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. John Campbell, executive vice president for government programs at Iridium. "The DTCS radios are easy-to use, lightweight and require no deployed infrastructure, making them ideal for dismounted warfighters on the move."
In addition to PTT voice calls, the devices can transmit real-time position location information, providing a common tactical and operational picture for all users on the network.
"Phase 2 of the DTCS program, which is currently deployed, provides expanded net footprints out to 250 miles and increases the number of available nets to 16,000," said Scott Scheimreif, Iridium's vice president of government programs. "We view Phase 3 as a strategic investment in the program, and are now working on additional architecture enhancements that will improve scalability and latency for enhanced communication and situational awareness of the warfighter."
"We are working closely with our customer and partners on innovative new technologies to provide beyond-line-of-sight two-way command and control (C2), and improved situational awareness down to the handheld device. Phase 3 implementation will support a high volume of reporting devices on a real-time basis due to increased efficiency up to 30 times from the current implementation," said Scheimreif.
Scheimreif states that these enhancements open up new opportunities in which DTCS can satisfy requirements for real-time data distribution across multiple platforms including sensors, vehicles, op centers and dismounted personnel.
The DTCS program had its origins in 2006 under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). The Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., which functions as the research and development lab for the U.S. Marine Corps, conducted demonstration trials and field tests of the DTCS radios, and deployed the first units to combat troops in Afghanistan in 2008.
With a successful program in place, the future holds many opportunities for the Netted Iridium program, including the creation of new segments with commercial netted services.
About Iridium Communications Inc.
Iridium Communications Inc. ( www.iridium.com ) is the only mobile satellite service (MSS) company offering coverage over the entire globe. The Iridium constellation of low-Earth orbiting (LEO) cross-linked satellites provides critical voice and data services for areas not served by terrestrial communication networks. Iridium serves commercial markets through a worldwide network of distributors, and provides services to the U.S. Department of Defense and other U.S. and international government agencies. The Company's customers represent a broad spectrum of industry, including maritime, aeronautical, government/defense, public safety, utilities, oil/gas, mining, forestry, heavy equipment and transportation. Iridium has launched a major development program for its next-generation satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT. The Company is headquartered in McLean, Va., U.S.A. and trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbols IRDM (common stock), IRDMW ($7.00 warrants), IRDMZ ($11.50 warrants) and IRDMU (units).
Statements in this press release that are not purely historical facts may constitute forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding the future architectural enhancements of performance capabilities of DTCS. Other forward-looking statements can be identified by the words "anticipates," "may," "can," "believes," "expects," "projects," "intends," "likely," "will," "to be" and other expressions that are predictions or indicate future events, trends or prospects. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Iridium to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, uncertainties regarding increases in customer demand for Iridium's products and services, Iridium's ability to maintain the health, capacity and content of its satellite constellation, and the development of and transition to Iridium NEXT, including expanded capacity and features, as well as general industry and economic conditions, and competitive, legal, governmental and technological factors. Other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements include those factors listed under the caption "Risk Factors" in the company's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010 and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 7, 2011. There is no assurance that Iridium's expectations will be realized. If one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or if Iridium's underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those expected, estimated or projected. Iridium's forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release, and Iridium undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements.
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