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Delays have plagued the Mobile User Ob-
jective System (MUOS) satellite commu-
nications system, but the Defense Depart-
ment and its suppliers are now gearing
up for continued deployment. e nar-
rowband military satellite network will
support U.S. and NATO military opera-
tions worldwide, increasing bandwidth,
improving security and aiding the drive
to move smart phones into the eld.
e rst satellite in the MUOS constella-
tion was supposed to launch in 2009, but it
was delayed until early 2012. Now, the Navy
predicts that the MUOS constellation - four
satellites and an on-orbit spare - will achieve
full operational capability in 2015. MUOS
will replace the Ultra High Frequency Fol-
low-On system and give mobile war ght-
ers improved communications capabilities
such as simultaneous voice, video and data.
e moves are part of a broad DOD pro-
gram designed to increase bandwidth and
security while replacing aging hardware.
at initiative, which includes the Ad-
vanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF)
network, will continue with a number of
satellite launches over the next few years.
"We expect MUOS-2 to launch in the
third quarter, and complete global cover-
age should be in place by 2015," said Mark
Pasquale, vice president and deputy of mili-
tary space programs at Lockheed Martin.
"A h on-orbit space will be delivered to
orbit in 2016. AEHF-3 is slated for a late
third-quarter launch, and its six satellites
should be in place by 2018."
Pasquale noted that the satellite sched-
uled to be placed in orbit this year complet-
ed testing in January and is now in storage
awaiting launch. MUOS uses a Wideband
Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA)
cellular phone network architecture that
provides a 16-fold increase in transmission
throughput compared to the legacy system.
It also will add global connectivity through
the Defense Information Systems Network
and support services such as full, two-way
voice and data transfers.
"A single MUOS satellite will provide
four times the capacity of the entire legacy
constellation of eight satellites," said Steven
Davis, a public a airs o cer at the Space
and Naval Warfare Systems Command
(SPAWAR). "Each MUOS satellite also
includes a legacy UHF payload that is
fully compatible with the current system
and legacy terminals. is dual-payload
design ensures a smooth transition to the
ough representatives of DOD and
prime contractor Lockheed Martin are
bullish about the program, critics note that
delays and cost overruns have diminished
much of the luster of the e ort. e mul-
tibillion dollar program is about two years
behind schedule. As a result, DOD has had
to contract with Australia for some UHF
coverage and use more commercial satellite
bandwidth than originally planned.
Although MUOS is nally moving for-
ward, commercial communication sup-
pliers haven t slowed their launches. For
example, Intelsat 22 was launched last year,
carrying 40 X 25 kHz UHF channels de-
signed to augment MUOS. e UHF pay-
load is compatible with the UHF Integrated
Waveform planned for use on MUOS.
ose involved with MUOS say that
while launches and connectivity have been
delayed, the system is now providing com-
munications capability with higher levels of
security than are currently available.
"Now that our customers are gaining
access to this additional capacity, they can
reduce costly commercial SATCOM leases,"
Pasquale said. " ese commercial transmis-
sion systems don t provide the same com-
munications security to prevent eavesdrop-
ping and are seldom jam-resistant to the
degree our customers demand. Moreover,
MUOS represents 16 times the capacity of
the satellites the constellation replaces."
ON THE GROUND
As satellites complete testing and come on
line, the focus is shi ing to terminals, which
are undergoing testing.
"From our standpoint, elding MUOS-
capable AN/PRC-155 two-channel Man-
pack radio is the rst step to fully using these
satellites," said Scotty Miller, a vice president
of secure communications and computing
technologies at General Dynamics C4 Sys-
tems. "With the July 2013 launch of the sec-
ond MUOS satellite, the government will
be able to use the two-channel Manpack
radios with the MUOS upgrade kit in real
user tests as early as September."
As the terminals move into production,
they will be deployed in many di erent ar-
eas. One important attribute of the network
is that war ghters can use the satellites re-
gardless of where they re positioned.
"Whether for vehicles, ships, submarines,
aircra or service members dismounted
and on the move, this system was designed
to provide voice and data communications
services both point-to-point and through
netted connections," Davis said. "A war-
ghter will be able to make a telephone call
over a MUOS terminal and send about 10
times more data than they can now."
Another critical aspect of the technology
is its ability to support war ghters while
they re on the move. MUOS doesn t require
the precise positioning associated with ex-
isting satellite links, which requires that us-
ers be stationary with an antenna pointed
directly towards a satellite.
"MUOS will allow users to be mobile
while communicating and to send data at
10 times more capacity than now by adapt-
BY TERRY COSTLOW
New communications satellite network will boost
bandwidth while helping reduce terminal sizes
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