Historically, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has been the driver of technological innovation, inventing remarkable capabilities to empower warfighter mission effectiveness and improve warfighter safety. Yet over the past 25 years, a transformational shift has taken place in several key technology sectors, and technology leadership in these sectors is no longer being driven by the military, but rather by the private sector.
The impact of world events on military operators in the field have made missions exponentially more demanding, and in tandem, the very simple concept of connectivity has transformed into a complex and challenging task. As new events occur around the globe, military and government users in remote and often hostile environments require instant and reliable connectivity empowered by robust intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor data. Resilient and secure satellite communications capabilities warfighters rely on also must be accessible at a moment’s notice.
The world is on the verge of a space-based global mesh network that could provide full-motion video of the entire planet, and that could pose problems for the military.
The U.S. Navy announced today that U.S. Strategic Command has approved the service’s next-generation narrowband satellite communication system for expanded operational use. The authorization paves the way for Navy and Marine Corps “early-adopter” commands to use the system on deployment as early as this fall, primarily in the Pacific theater, according to the written announcement. The Navy's on-orbit, five-satellite constellation—the Mobile User Objective System, or MUOS—began providing legacy satellite communications shortly after the system’s first satellite launch in 2012.
With the development and fielding of satellite communications throughout the U.S. military, today’s warfighters rarely use high frequency communications within and between units. International events have increased interest in high frequency communications as an alternative to connecting via satellites on current and future battlefields. U.S. military units already own a large amount of the radio equipment suitable for employment at various levels of the battlefield and for humanitarian relief as a redundant means of beyond-line-of-sight communications.
More than 2,000 miles away from the path of devastation cut by hurricanes Irma and Maria, network engineers at the Rock Island Arsenal Integrated Network Operations Center (INOC) work around-the-clock to support the relief efforts of American aid workers in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Operated by the Army’s product lead for Defense-Wide Transmission Systems, the INOC establishes and supports satellite (SATCOM) communications links for a wide range of missions.
UltiSat, Incorporated of Gaithersburg, Maryland was awarded a 5-year master services agreement (MSA) to provide satellite communications products and services for a global humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) with operations in the Middle East. Under this MSA, UltiSat will provide very small aperture terminal (VSAT) equipment, training and managed network services to the organization’s field offices across the Middle East. “UltiSat is pleased to support the missions of this global NGO with important operations in the Middle East,” said Brum Cerzosimo, UltiSat’s Senior Director of Global Accounts. “UltiSat brings years of experience and expertise working in this region in support of humanitarian missions.
Mnemonics Incorporated of Melbourne, Florida, is being awarded a $10,043,841 cost-plus-fixed fee completion contract for the final phase of research and development services for Satellite, Avionics and Communications Systems. The total cumulative face value of this contract including all options, is $49,615 252. Work will be performed at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, District of Columbia, and work is expected to be completed October 31, 2018. If all options are exercised, work will continue through November 30, 2022. Fiscal 2018 Navy working capital funds in the amount of $150,000 will be obligated at the time of award. No funds will expire at end of current fiscal year. This contract was procured on the basis other than f
As the U.S. Defense Department goes full force into managing its terrestrial digital infrastructure of interconnected systems, it faces an additional challenge: connecting the moving dots involving space-based networks. Military satellite users want commercial service providers to develop more resilient and flexible communication networks based on open architectures to streamline shifts between military and commercial resources.
During the final days of November, managers for the Joint Telemedicine Network (JTMN) powered down the central teleport facility in Landstuhl, Germany, officially closing the network that had provided a dedicated worldwide satellite communication (SATCOM) network to U.S. Army medical personnel treating wounded soldiers at field hospitals and forward operating bases in combat zones.
U.S. Army satellite ground stations are getting a much-needed total makeover—considering that several hail from the same era as the Vietnam War, the Kennedy presidency and the space race.
Their high-tech moniker—Satellite Earth Terminal Stations, or SETS—belies the actual nature of these facilities. The structures appear to more closely resemble corrugated steel warehouses for auto parts than suitable environments for cutting-edge satellite communications (SATCOM) equipment. During the 1960s, digital SATCOM was hardly a twinkle in the eye of technologists. SATCOM speed, volume and complexity would increase by many orders of magnitude over the next five decades.
Advances in a plethora of military communication and situational awareness platforms have created unintended repercussions for the U.S. Navy, from the “forest of antennas” that can consume a ship’s deck to the debilitating effects of radio interference that clog airwaves and impede critical links to vessels, aircraft, drones and even satellites. Navy engineers are toiling on a handful of projects to ensure effective and secure communication links, which are so fundamental to military operations.
The U.S. Navy’s investment in its own fleet of high-altitude, long-range unmanned aerial systems called Tritons marks a detour from the military’s longtime use of satellite technology to connect its arsenal of big platforms such as Global Hawks and Predators.
As the U.S. Army brings even more advanced information technologies into the force, the service also strives to simplify training and use of these highly capable tools. Making increasingly complex systems simpler to operate now is a core function of the office tasked with designing, fielding and maintaining command, control and communications in the warfighting realm.
Raytheon Co. Space and Airborne Systems, Marlborough, Massachusetts, has been awarded a $39,951,691 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (FA8808-16-C-0006) for protected tactical service field demonstration (PTSFD). PTSFD will demonstrate the ability to provide wideband anti-jam communications to tactical users using the Wideband Global Satellite Communications (SATCOM) constellation and commercial SATCOM. Work will be performed in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and is expected to be completed by September 30, 2020.
In its enduring space race to narrow the materializing gap between the United States and peer competitors, the Air Force’s fiscal year 2017 budget emphasizes sustaining mission capabilities and improving space resilience by investing in command and control programs, situational awareness technologies, expendable launch systems and satellite communications.
Growing threats to national security in the space domain have prompted U.S. Air Force leaders to revamp plans and programs to adapt to a new reality of reinforcing system and network resiliency and shifting its people and resources to focus on warfighting functions. Government space capabilities, augmented by commercial systems, will play critical and active roles to secure U.S. and allied interests in and through the increasingly contested domain of space, requiring the Air Force and the Defense Department to proactively plan how to enable more coordinated and integrated space enterprise operations.
The Defense Department has reached a turning point in satellite communications (SATCOM) acquisition and deployment. On one hand, it is transitioning SATCOM from narrowband to wideband to keep up with ever-accumulating voice, video and data consumption. On the other, the budget forecast for the foreseeable future does not cover the replacement or addition of military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) systems, except for those within existing programs of record.
The U.S. Army is evolving and positioning its fleet of ground satellite communications terminals to ensure that units can successfully respond to multiple military or humanitarian contingencies anywhere in the world. Both commercial and military satellites are giving the Army greater flexibility in networking links and in the missions that can be conducted with network connectivity.
L-3 Communications announced today that it has been awarded an $81.8 million contract from Raytheon Australia to supply the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with 236 Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), additional support equipment and training as part of Joint Project 2008 Phase 5B1. This program will further enable the ADF to utilize the Wideband Global Satellite Communications system, significantly increasing its satellite communications capabilities. Two L-3 business units, Global Communications Solutions (GCS) and Linkabit, will perform on this contract, with hardware deliveries expected to be completed this year.