SATCOM

Apri 1, 2020
By Eric E. Johnson, Ph.D., PE
Cpl. Jacob Worshan, USMC, holds an antenna during a long distance, high frequency communications training event held on Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan. This training between 1st and 3rd Marine Division helps the units maintain a low electromagnetic signature that is virtually impervious to jamming and interference, which allows for distributed operations without detection in the operating environment.  Photo by Lance Cpl. Christian Ayers, USMC

Concerns are growing about warfighters’ ability to communicate mission-critical information beyond line-of-sight in conflicts with peer and near-peer adversaries. Just in time, a new generation of highly capable high frequency radios is emerging as a viable solution when satellite communications are denied or unavailable. Fourth-generation wideband high frequency radios can satisfy military needs with the century-old wireless technology that is experiencing a resurgence of interest from warfighters worldwide.

March 25, 2020
 

CACI Inc. - Federal, Chantilly, Virginia, is awarded $180,336,750 for a single award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, performance based, cost-plus-fixed-fee, level-of-effort contract (N65236-20-D-8003) to provide special operations communications systems, satellite communications (SATCOM) and network support services. Work will be performed in Fayetteville, North Carolina (65%); continental U.S. (20%); outside continental U.S. (10%); and Tampa, Florida (5%).

February 1, 2020
By Col. Stephen Hamilton, USA, and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Judy Esquibel, USA
Staff Sgt. David Nelson, USA, a signal support systems specialist assigned to 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in support of Resolute Castle 2018, explains near vertical incidence skywave antenna theory to members of Company B, 151st Expeditionary Signal Battalion during a high frequency radio class. Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Kimberly D. Calkins, ANG

As cyber threats continue to grow, so does the reality that digital satellite communications can be degraded and denied either through digital or electromagnetic means. If these capabilities are compromised, however, high frequency radio provides a means to continue communicating even beyond the line of sight by leveraging the ionosphere to refract radio signals back to earth.

The International Communication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector designates the high frequency (HF) range as between 3 megahertz and 30 megahertz. While this method of communication was utilized extensively up through the 1990s, it began to lose traction in the military when the availability of satellite communications (SATCOM) increased.

December 6, 2019
 

CACI National Security Solutions Inc. (CACI), Reston, Virginia, is awarded a modification to a previously awarded (N65236-16-D-8011) indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee performance based contract. Thes single award contract (SAC) is currently in its fourth year with a contract expiration date of September 14, 2020. This modification increases the basic contract estimated ceiling by $21,678,272 and changes the cumulative estimated value of the contract from $104,541,625 to $126,219,897. This SAC is for Special Operations Communications Systems Satellite Communications and Network Support Services in support of U.S.

December 4, 2019
 

The Army awarded Atlanta-based Envistacom a $47.8 million, three-year contract in support of the service's Deployable Ku-Band Earth Terminal (DKET) program. The company will assist the Army’s Product Manager Satellite Communications (PdM SATCOM). The tasking comes as part of the Deployable Adaptive Global Responder Support indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract that has a ceiling of $480 million over five years. The company will provide installation, training, relocation, integration, and upgrades for new, legacy and existing DKETs, DKET LT - the so-called Lite version - and mobile DKET, known as MKET. PdM SATCOM is responsible for the Army's tactical multi-channel satellite ground and commercial terminal programs.

September 10, 2019
 

Carlsbad, California-based Viasat upgraded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) ultra high frequency (UHF) satellite communications (SATCOM) control stations to comply with the new integrated waveform baseline. The upgrade will provide NATO with improved interoperability, scalability and flexibility across legacy and next-generation platforms, according to the company.

June 27, 2019
 

IAP Worldwide Services Inc., Cape Canaveral, Florida, was awarded a $16,289,540 hybrid (cost-no-fee, firm-fixed-price and time-and-materials) contract for satellite communication support. Bids were solicited via the internet with two received. Work will be performed in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with an estimated completion date of January 21, 2025. Fiscal year 2019 operations and maintenance Army funds in the amount of $16,289,540 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, is the contracting activity (W52P1J-19-C-0034).

June 19, 2019
Posted by Gopika Ramesh
A U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal is assembling an AN/PRC-117G radio on the flight deck of an amphibious assault ship. The Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) adds updated firmware to the radio, giving warfighters more advanced satellite communications.” Credit: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tawanya Norwood.

The U.S. Marine Corps recently began using a next-generation narrowband satellite communication system called the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) to help warfighters in connecting to networks on the battlefield and communicate in a tactical environment.

MUOS works by using antennas that let Marines access SATCOM networks while also providing them with secure and nonsecure internet access. The system applies to both mobile or stationary marines and was fielded in the first quarter of 2019. It includes updated firmware to the AN/PRC-117G radio system and one of three antenna kits.

April 11, 2019
 

The Boeing Co., Seattle, Washington, is awarded $93,632,264 for cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order N0001919F2963 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-16-G-0001). The order provides for the manufacture, test, installation, integration, and qualification of up to eight Wideband Satellite Communication kits in the P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the Navy. Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington (83 percent); Patuxent River, Maryland (15 percent); and St. Louis, Missouri (2 percent), and is expected to be completed in April 2024.

October 11, 2018
By Ken Peterman
Hybrid adaptive networks combines the power of U.S. military and commercial satellite communications, maximizing warfighter capabilities and resilience. Credit: sumanley/Pixabay

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. 

October 1, 2018
By Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch
Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Austin Vosburg, USN, performs routine maintenance on the USS Zephyr’s commercial broadband satellite program equipment. The maritime family of SATCOM terminals provides high data rate communications to small and large ships.

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.

August 23, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Maj. Gen. James J. Mingus, USA, commanding general, 82nd Airborne Division, speaks at AFCEA’s TechNet Augusta conference. Photo by Michael Carpenter

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.

August 2, 2018
Posted by George I. Seffers
Marines from the 1st Marine Division test out the Mobile User Objective System at a Field User Evaluation in Camp Pendleton, California. MUOS is a satellite communication system that uses commercial cell phone technology on the battlefield. Marine Corps Systems Command will begin fielding MUOS in the fourth quarter of 2018. Credit: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Eddie Young

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.

June 1, 2018
By Kurt Stephens and Bill Whittington
An omnidirectional broadband antenna and 5 meter Rolatube mast system weighs 11 pounds and can be set up and ready for transmit and receive in less than six minutes by one person.

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.

December 4, 2017
By James Christophersen
U.S. Army soldiers unload critical supplies in Puerto Rico. The Army also is providing satellite communications in support of hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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.

November 15, 2017
 

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.

November 3, 2017
 

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

April 1, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
The U.S. Defense Department lacked sufficient satellite resources for many missions during the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, propelling the department to rely heavily on commercial services for its satellite needs.

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. 

March 16, 2017
By James Christophersen
Soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and the Alabama Army National Guard assemble a VSAT, similar to the one Army Medical Command personnel rely upon for telemedicine support when forward-deployed.

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.

February 1, 2017
By Carl Morris and James Christophersen
A new state-of-the-art Satellite Earth Terminal Station (SETS) in Landstuhl, Germany, provides improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning and power distribution as well as additional floor space to better accommodate increased systems and subsystems. Photo courtesy U.S. Army-PM DCATS

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.

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