The U.S. Air Force may ask Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. to share costs as a way to enable both companies to continue putting U.S. spy and other satellites into orbit, the Wall Street Journal said in a report on Monday.
The Air Force said in June that by the end of this year it would complete a study reexamining a costly program under which Boeing and Lockheed Martin launch government satellites.
A report earlier this year by the House of Representatives Appropriations Committed said the United States should pick one of the two companies to launch satellites rather than “underfunding” both in what it called a counterproductive dual program.
Currently, the U.S. military encourages Lockheed Martin to maintain its Atlas V family of launch vehicles and Boeing its Delta IV family.
The cost to keep two providers is expected to be more than $5 billion through the end of the decade, according to the newspaper.
James Roche, who resigned as Air Force Secretary earlier this month, told the Journal the Pentagon was favoring an arrangement that guarantees each company a minimum share of future launches but requires that they share some overhead, marketing and other costs.
The report said that no final decisions had been made and that a panel of experts has only recently started to brief the Air Force about possible options.
Lockheed and Boeing have complained about losing money amid a poor market for commercial launches.
Complicating matters is a continuing suspension that bans Boeing from launching military satellites until the U.S. government determines if a former Air Force official, who admitted favoring the company on some contracts, tainted a 1998 competition for rocket launches.