The SBIRS GEO-1 satellite. (Lockheed Martin)
HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA — The Pentagon needs to fundamentally change the way it buys satellites in an effort to lower costs as US defense spending contracts, a top Air Force general said.
The military oftentimes spends between $3 billion and $5 billion to design, develop and test new satellites, Lt. Gen. John Hyten, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, said. Those so-called non-recurring engineering costs come before DoD buys an operational satellite.
"We should not have to spend billions of dollars in non-recurring engineering … to build these kinds of satellites," Hyten said Tuesday while speaking at the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
At the same time, Hyten said that although the Air Force and industry have effectively brought down the costs of new satellites, much of the architecture is dated and "the world has changed."
"The industry … knows how to build those satellites today," he said. "We have to define our requirements correctly.”