Lockheed’s fourth MUOS satellite enters system test

After integrating two of the most important components of the fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite for the U.S Navy, the Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft will now be progressing to its first system check-out, then to its environmental test.

Lockheed Martin’s team delivered and integrated the satellite’s communications system module. The engineers also mated the multi-beam assembly, hosting 16 ultra-high frequency (UHF) antennas for distributed, global communications coverage.

The MUOS satellite, supporting UHF satellite communications, is designed to provide reliable communications to mobile warfighters, which includes the new capability of simultaneous voice, video and data for mobile users.

“MUOS-4 is gleaning the benefits of the lessons learned from the first three vehicles,” said Lockheed Martin’s Narrowband Communications mission area VP Iris Bombelyn. “We continue to focus on reducing risk, maintaining efficient operations and delivering a flawless vehicle to our customer. Our execution on the ground is complemented by our performance on orbit, where our first satellite is already in position and performing exceptionally.”

The antenna and system module of the MUOS satellite — which is designed, built and delivered by Lockheed Martin to the company’s facilities in Sunnyvale, California —  allows satellite communications coverage via wideband code division multiple access standard. This provides a 16-fold increase over legacy UHF communications when it comes to the number and capacity of satellite links.

Lockheed Martin has been contracted by the U.S Navy to provide four MUOS satellite, plus a spare and the associated ground system. The company’s facility in Sunnyvale is the MUOS prime contractor and system integrator.

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Turkey plans dedicated military satellite communications network

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) plans to create a dedicated military satellite communications network by launching five military reconnaissance and Earth observation satellites over the next few years.

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The TSK’s newly-created Space Group Command will lead the initiative to expand Turkey’s milsatcom network. It also plans to deploy Turkey’s very own satellite positioning system as an alternative to the American GPS network.

The Turkish military does not have its own dedicated military communications satellite. It currently makes do with the national Turksat spacecraft. The plan to launch additional satellites would improve and expand the TKS’ satellite communications capabilities.

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U.S Air Force awards $105M to Lockheed for missile defense satellite logistics

Lockheed Martin, a leading company that provides aerospace, defense, security and advanced technology solutions, has been chosen by the U.S Air Force to provide logistics support for a missile warning and defense satellite system. Under the cost-plus incentive-fee and fixed-price incentive-firm contract, the company will also perform legacy sustainment and combined task force support work.

The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) aims to provide warnings for any theater and strategic missile launches to the President, defense secretary and combatant commanders. It is also used to supply infrared data to combatant and joint task force commanders.

The SBIRS is specifically designed to receive, process and deliver the infrared data to key decision makers through its architecture of hosted sensor payloads in Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO), dedicated Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting (GEO) satellites, and the associated ground infrastructure.

Lockheed serves as the prime contractor of SBIRS, along with Northrop Grumman as the payload integrator and the Air Force Space Command as the operator.

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ThinKom X/Ka-band satcom-on-the-move system completes Aberdeen trials

A low-profile multi-band Satcom-on-the-Move (SOTM) system designed by ThinKom Solutions, Inc. successfully completed its latest trials at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Aberdeen, Maryland. The Humvee-mounted satellite communications system achieved data rates of 3 Mbps on receive (downlink) and 1.5 Mbps on transmit (uplink) on XTAR-LANT, all while the vehicle was mobile.

The ThinkKom X/Ka-band system is an integrated satellite antenna terminal capable of operating on the move. It combines a low-profile footprint with high-end, bi-directional data communications capability to make the most efficient use of available satellite resources and save money for government and military users.

In addition, ThinKom has developed ThinSAT Commander, a smaller variant of its X-/Ka-band satellite communications system, and will debut it at APG in April 2013.

ThinKom based its SOTM antenna technology on the Continuous Transverse Stub (CTS) Flatplate technology. Compatible with MIL-STD-188-165B requirements, CTS antenna enjoy a variety of benefits such as enhanced aperture efficiency, improved broadband performance, and greater control of antenna patterns.

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Actia Sodielec, Astrium Services develop French comcept Ka-band satcom system

Actia Sodielec and Astrium Services have been contracted to realize the Comcept Network and Ground Segment on behalf of the Defense French Procurement Agency (DGA.) The two partner companies will jointly develop a comcept satellite communications system for French military forces that allows to access high throughput transmissions in Ka-band. The joint network will leverage the Athena-Fidus satellite, which is set for launch in early 2014.

It’s up to Actia Sodielec to develop, manufacture, and test the High Data Rate Terminal (HDR,) Theater & Metropolitan Terminal (TMT,) and Small Deployable Terminal (SDT.) These user satcom terminals will serve as the cornerstone of the Comcept network, and must be compatible with both commercial and Governmental Ka-band.

The French military currently uses the Syracuse III generation of satellite communications terminals. Actia Sodielec delivered SHF and EHF band ground stations, complete RF subsystems, and power amplifiers for the Syracus network.

Inmarsat unveils L-TAC L-band service for government users

Inmarsat recently unveiled its planned L-TAC mobile tactical Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) communications service. The low cost L-band service will leverage the Company’s L-band satellites to deliver a ‘UHF-like’ tactical satellite capability to approved government customers through their current UHF tactical radios.

Tactical radios use UHF tactical satellite capability to create Beyond-Line-of-Sight Push-to-Talk networks. It is understandably in high demand by government customers

Inmarsat will complement this current UHF tactical capacity with its planned L-TAC service. On the occasions that UHF capacity is inaccessible, L-TAC will ensure the availability of additional capability. The service can be leased for a fixed period with the shortest lease period being one month.

L-TAC will leverage the Inmarsat-4 constellation of satellites for global coverage. It will also support the small antennas used by on-the-move BLOS communications. Users of the latter merely need to replace the UHF antenna on their tactical radio with a small antenna adaptor.

To that end, a partnership between Inmarsat and the Spectra Group is developing the Slingshot adaptor. Intended to enter commercial service in Q2 2013, Slingshot is compatible with existing tactical military radios. It requires only minimal additional training and does not need new infrastructure to provide Beyond-Line-of-Sight communications. The combination of Slingshot and the L-TAC leased service will create a fully flexible, secure, reliable, and affordable solution.

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Lockheed Martin makes SMSS robot vehicle dance to SATCOM tune

The Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) robotic vehicle made Lockheed Martin proud as it demonstrated its capabilities per orders sent from hundreds of miles via satellite communications.

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The SMSS undertook a number of battlefield surveillance operations at Camp Grayling, Michigan. Commands were sent by the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Michigan, which was 200 miles distant.

For the demonstration, SMSS carried a Gyrocam 9M Tactical Surveillance Sensor and a General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies “SATCOM-On-the-Move” system. The Gyrocam 9M stabilized EO payload was mounted on a telescopic mast and obtained on-the-move, high-resolution electro-optical and thermal video of its surroundings.

One of the Lockheed Martin-built robot vehicle’s simulated missions was the autonomous navigation of a pre-planned route with minimum intervention by the operator The SMSS successfully executed ‘follow-me,’ ‘go-to-point,’ ‘retro-traverse,’ and other autonomous functions.

The remote station in Warren, MI controlled and monitored the movements and sensor functions of the SMSS throughout the test via tele-operation.

The successful demonstration proved that autonomy, satellite communications, surveillance sensors, and vehicle mobility can be combined to grant situational awareness of a battlefield without the need to send soldiers into harm’s way.

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