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Dispatches Part I
Information & News, by the editors

The Long Lead Parts Procurement Starts

DispatchesFig3 The U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin two fixed-price contracts totaling $120 million to procure long lead parts for the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth next generation Global Positioning System satellites, known as GPS III.

The GPS III program will affordably replace aging GPS satellites while improving capability to meet the evolving demands of military, commercial and civilian users. GPS III satellites will deliver better accuracy and improved anti-jamming power while enhancing the spacecraft’s design life and adding a new civil signal designed to be interoperable with international global navigation satellite systems.

Incorporating lessons learned from previous GPS programs, the Air Force initiated a “back-to-basics” acquisition approach for GPS III. The strategy emphasizes early investments in rigorous systems engineering, industry-leading parts standards, and the development of a full-size GPS III satellite prototype to significantly reduce risk, improve production predictability, increase mission assurance and lower overall program costs. These investments early in the GPS III program are designed to prevent the types of engineering issues discovered on other programs late in the manufacturing process or even on orbit.

AVL_snipe_MSM0313.jpg Lockheed Martin is currently under contract for production of the first four GPS III satellites, and will now begin advanced procurement of long-lead components for the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth satellites. The Air Force plans to purchase as many as 32 GPS III satellites. The GPS III team is led by the Global Positioning Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

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Set To Start A Comprehensive Study

Harris Corporation has been awarded a contract to study and make recommendations to help modernize the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.

DispatchesFig1 The contract was awarded by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Defense Weather Systems Directorate. As part of the study, Harris will analyze the existing Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) space and ground assets and create plans to show how each can evolve into the Weather Satellite Follow-on (WSF) to meet mission needs and lower life cycle costs. Key items to be considered include information assurance, net-centric data strategies, scalability and affordability.

The comprehensive study will address potential compatibility and transition issues, cutover of operations, sustainment impacts, minimizing of disruptions to operations, and security accreditation implications.

The recommendations likely will include an evolutionary approach that leverages Harris’ innovative and proven data processing capabilities to meet critical weather information needs for the warfighter.

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Broadband Joins The Rotary World

ViaSat Inc. has demonstrated a high-performance Ka-band satellite communication system that delivers beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) broadband for rotary wing aircraft.

DispatchesFig2 This advanced system provided sustained data rates of 4Mbps from the helicopter to a ground station and 8Mbps to the helicopter despite very high shock and vibration and the inherent repetitive signal blockage from rotating blades.

While previous “through the blade” demonstrations have proved the underlying patented and patent-pending technology, this flight test at Patuxent River, Maryland used a Sikorsky H-3 helicopter.

NorthropGrumman_ad_MSM0313 Flight conditions encompassed rigorous maneuvers, including severe banking and operation through several rotor orientations while running data-intensive applications. During multiple tests, operators were able to simultaneously run five VoIP calls, three VTCs from air to ground, and streaming videos from the Internet to the aircraft. All applications ran without packet loss or video dropout. This new system builds on proven ViaSat mobile Ku- and Ka- technologies using a modified waveform optimized for efficient through-the-blade broadband communications. The system can be used on manned and unmanned rotary wing platforms and provides communications regardless of the number of blades, blade size, number of rotors, or their orientation on the airframe.

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Glowlink Is The Link

The company will be unveiling at Satellite 2013 several break-through products and technology designed to prevent, detect, locate, and remove satellite interferences.

Glowlink These new Glowlink products and technology will improve overall SATCOM communications. Visit

Glowlink at the Satellite 2013 Conference and Exhibition, March 19 – 21, 2013, in Washington D.C. (Booth #4047). Key personnel from Glowlink will be on hand to explain and conduct product demonstration. Contact Glowlink at sales@glowlink.com to schedule a meeting.

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Defending CENTCOM Critical MILSATCOM Links

More than 22,000 miles away, spinning silently through the vacuum of space, is one of the most critical components to air, space and cyberspace superiority today; a satellite.

DispatchesFig4 The mission to defend and protect the operability of that satellite rests a little closer to home, at the U.S. Air Forces Central Command Combined Air and Space Operations Center within the Combat Operations Division’s Space Cell.

“We have five priority missions we support,” said Capt. Brandon Davenport, the Space Cell chief. “Theater missile warning, personnel recovery support, satellite communications, GPS constellation health and modeling, as well as battle space characterization.”

One of the biggest threats to satellite communications and GPS missions is its vulnerability to electromagnetic interference, or EMI, which causes the signal to be “jammed.”

Jamming, at its most basic level, is denying a satellite the ability to communicate by overwhelming it with energy where it would expect to see the friendly signal. This is basically like someone using a bullhorn to drown out someone else’s conversation.

This type of occurrence can be intentional, in which case it is considered hostile, or accidental. The most common causes of accidental EMI are easily found and remedied. Hostile jamming, however, can require a more creative solution.

“To assure minimal operational impact, our communicators systematically work through actions to quickly restore the services affected.” said Lt. Col. Jason Knight, the Director of Space Force’s assigned space weapons officer. “If the EMI is determined to be intentional, we engage up the chain and through other governmental agencies to apply non-lethal, or lethal, national instruments of power in order to quickly restore services and resolve the problem.”

EMI resolution would not be possible without cross-Combatant Command and cross-agency collaboration between space and cyber professionals, or one of the most technical aspects of the space cell’s mission, geolocation of a hostile jamming signal.

“Our focus is to track down a jamming signal with high-confidence and say ‘it’s this guy’,” Knight said. “By combining our cyber and space expertise at the operational and tactical levels we are better able to attribute and identify sources of interference, and eliminate intentional denial of SATCOM by our adversaries.”

Harris_ad_MSM0313 Because the satellite transmission spreads out as it travels toward Earth at the speed of light, each satellite covers an area approximately one-third of the planet’s surface from its perch far into outer space.

This allows for overlap between several satellites and grants U.S. forces the flexibility to shift to another satellite if necessary to complete the mission.

The linchpin in this whole process is Operation Silent Sentry, run by the 379th Expeditionary Operations Squadron. The Silent Sentry team’s mission is to monitor hundreds of satellite transmissions every week using the Rapid Attack Identification Detection Reporting System and help detect and locate signals that do not belong on U.S. satellites, such as a jammer.

“The Silent Sentry antennas and our satellites represent two known locations and the jammer a third, unknown location,” Davenport said. “Because we start knowing two out of three points, and have both frequency and time values available to us, we can use algebra to figure out a line running north south as well as a line running east and west of possible locations. Where those lines cross, we’ll find the offending transmitter.”

Though the technology does not yet exist to prevent jamming, the available actions that the U.S. military and its allies may take can be swift and decisive.

“Most emitters that put our systems at risk can be identified by our teams,” Davenport said. “During combat, an adversary could technically jam our satellite signals, but we can recover fairly quickly, attribute the source of interference and respond accordingly.”

Story by Tech. Sgt. Michael Andriacco, U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs

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Worth Repeating

An advanced satellite payload for Cospas-Sarsat, the global search-and-rescue system, is to be developed by Canada’s COM DEV International Ltd.

DispatchesFig5 The contract for the first phase of the Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue project was issued by Canada’s Department of Public Works and Government Services and is worth about $4.6 million.

The Cospas-Sarsat system was established in the 1970s by Canada, the United States, France and Russia and became operational in 1982.

Under the contract, COM DEV will develop a fully integrated prototype MEOSAR repeater, which will provide enhanced and more rapid detection of emergency distress signals anywhere in the world from an orbit altitude of more than 16 miles.

The repeaters will be used on the next generation constellation of Global Positioning Satellites. COM DEV began the development of its MEOSAR technology in 2008 under through a Canadian Space Agency project.

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The COMCEPT Concept

The DGA—Defense French Procurement Agency—late last year awarded ACTIA SODIELEC and its partner ASTRIUM SERVICES a contract for the realization of the COMCEPT Network and Ground Segment.

DispatchesFig6 With this SATCOM system, French military forces will access high throughput transmissions in Ka-band, using the new Athena-Fidus satellite that will be launched in early 2014.

Within this new contract, ACTIA SODIELEC will develop, manufacture, and test COMCEPT cornerstone User Satcom Terminals: High Data Rate Terminal (HDR), Theater & Metropolitan Terminal (TMT) and Small Deployable Terminal (SDT). Design of these terminals will be compatible both with commercial and Governmental Ka-band.

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SATCOM Terminal Training Suite Upgraded

The Army recently began schoolhouse computer-based and simulated training upgrades for its advanced Secure Mobile Anti-Jam Reliable Tactical -- Terminal to evolve the previous legacy training system to accommodate various new system enhancements.

DispatchesFig7 When commanders need protected, secure throughput for worldwide communications, they rely on the Secure Mobile Anti-Jam Reliable Tactical -- Terminal, or SMART-T.

This system makes it possible for Soldiers to extend the range of their network in such a manner that communications cannot be jammed, detected or intercepted. The Advanced Extremely High Frequency, or AEHF, SMART-Ts provide advanced capability to the force over legacy systems, including a four-fold increase in throughput and enhanced security features.

“Since all of the legacy SMART-T systems are currently being upgraded to the AEHF capability, these training upgrades are a vital step in ensuring that Soldiers and their units are getting the most out of these improved protected communication capabilities, and in the most efficient and cost-effective manner available,” said Lt. Col. Greg Coile, product manager for Satellite Communications, or PdM SATCOM, which manages SMART-T. PdM SATCOM is assigned to the Army’s Project Manager Warfighter Information Network-Tactical.

The United States Army Signal School and Fort Gordon, Georgia, training upgrades began in December 2012 after months of planning and scheduling critical events.

Major enhancements include the AEHF upgrades to the Satellite Simulator, or SATSIM, and Computer Based Training, or CBT, system, along with the addition of 12 new AEHF SMART-T systems, with the last of these systems being delivered in February.

The updated training began in mid-January with four Army classes and one Marine class, totaling 73 students. Over the next year, the three-week AEHF SMART-T course will be taught to 62 classes, with more than 1,000 Army students and 100 Air Force, Marines and civilians.

“These training enhancements increase efficiencies for both the Army and Marine Corps,” said Larry Raville, SMART-T project lead. “If these Soldiers have an AEHF SMART-T fielded to their unit, they will have already had the Advanced EHF training, eliminating the need for delta training had they only been trained on the legacy system.”

xicomtech_ad_MSM0313 With SMART-T, Soldiers at the brigade echelon and above can send text, data, voice and video communications beyond their area of operations without worrying that the information will fall into the hands of enemy forces.

SMART-T is part of the WIN-T architecture and is compatible with both WIN-T Increment 1 and Increment 2, which make up the Army’s tactical communications network backbone.

Similar to a home Internet connection, WIN-T Increment 1 provides high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to units on the battlefield, at-the-halt or at-the-quick-halt.

WIN-T Increment 2 provides this network to maneuver formations down to the company level while on the move. In May WIN-T Increment 2 will undergo its Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. As part of the training improvements at Fort Gordon, the facility’s SATSIM was upgraded to accommodate the new AEHF SMART-T training.

The SATSIM provides constant simulated satellite access to allow training to be conducted year-round, without interruption or overloading the satellite in real-time.

Satellite time is a limited and costly resource. However, the simulator provides the same training benefits and replicates everything that Soldiers would normally see if they were logged onto a real satellite, thus decreasing satellite cost and dependency.

“Simulation is a big focus now because our forces can train in real-time without having to utilize valuable satellite resources,” said Mel Pointer, SMART-T logistics management specialist. “Now instead of Soldiers logging on to the actual satellite for training, they can use the SATSIM, and that satellite resource can be more appropriately dedicated to an operational unit where it is most needed.”

The SMART-T CBT system was also upgraded to accommodate the AEHF capabilities. The CBT replicates a satellite and AEHF SMART-T working in tandem so Soldiers receive real-time, simulated training as if they were actually using the system.

In the past this server-based system was used to provide classroom training on the legacy SMART-T, but in January both the server and CBT classrooms were upgraded to accommodate the upgraded AEHF version of the system.

The number of classrooms and student capacity was also increased to four classrooms with 24 students per class, running two or three shifts.

Although it is not practical or cost efficient to have enough actual live AEHF SMART-Ts to put every Soldier on a terminal for hands-on experience for the entirety of the course, the SATSIM and CBT upgrades maximize the amount of training that can be conducted by minimizing the amount of hands-on training time needed.

Following the classroom training with the SATSIM and CBT, the SMART-T AEHF terminals themselves provide hands-on training through live practical exercises.

Since the Soldiers already had the simulated training, by the time they get to the hands-on training, they know how to operate the system.

“By having this updated SMART-T AEHF training available, Fort Gordon, the Training and Doctrine Command, and the Army are postured to absorb any type of Military Operational Specialty surge that might arise in the future and they will be well prepared to meet any increased training requirements,” Pointer said.

Story by Amy Walker, staff writer for PEO C3T

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Four Days Of Flight Without Need Of Fuel

DispatchesFig8 Boeing’s liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system completed its second flight Feb. 25, demonstrating capabilities that will allow it to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions for up to four days without refueling.

During the flight, at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Phantom Eye climbed above an altitude of 8,000 feet and remained aloft for 66 minutes at a cruising speed of 62 knots before landing. The aircraft exceeded what it achieved last year during its first flight when it flew at an altitude of 4,080 feet and remained aloft for 28 minutes.

Boeing is self-funding development of the environmentally responsible Phantom Eye, which generates only water as a byproduct of its propulsion system.

Following the first flight, Boeing upgraded the aircraft’s software and hardware, including the landing gear. The upgrades paid off in the form of a picture-perfect landing.

The Phantom Eye demonstrator is capable of carrying a 450-pound payload while operating for up to four days at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet.

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Archangels Continue Satellite Control Legacy

Alpha Company at Fort Detrick began its existence as the first Satellite Operation Center in 1982.

DispatchesFig9 Since then, the Archangels (Alpha) have led the 53rd Signal Battalion (Satellite Control) in several technological advancements to better serve the United States Military in the ever-increasing need for satellite communications.

With the launch of the Wideband Global Satellite 5, Alpha Company is now preparing to make the next move in advancing satellite communications to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines around the world.

WGS is the latest military communication satellite, with the first launching in 2007.

The WGS constellation continues to mature and Alpha Company will be taking on the newest mission.

Although this is not the first WGS in orbit, it will be a first for the 59 soldiers, one Department of Army civilian and 11 contractors who make up the Archangels.

“We continually endeavor to provide seamless communications to our users, and Alpha has created a yearlong training plan to ensure mission accomplishment with WGS,” said Capt. Mark Anderson, company commander.

“The Archangels have worked with a legacy satellite constellation known as the Defense Satellite Communication System for more than 30 years, and the move to WGS requires training on new equipment and most importantly—experience. Alpha Company has drawn from multiple resources to ensure our satellite controllers are prepared for this mission.

”We have the benefit of five geographically dispersed sister companies and other agencies to support our train-up. Our Sister Companies around the world are able to share a wealth of knowledge about this new system, but we are fortunate to have one of our sister companies, Bravo Company, located an hour down the road at Fort Meade, Maryland.”

According to Anderson their location allows Alpha Company to conduct new mission training by bringing WGS experienced soldiers here, as well as sending soldiers to the Bravo location. In addition to this new mission training, he said, the ability to learn from subject matter experts on new equipment and positions has proved invaluable.

“All of our satellite control equipment training is conducted on site, and takes up to six months for Soldiers to achieve their initial certification. This type of mission has no room for error, so training is a constant at Alpha Company.”

In addition to new mission training, Alpha Company has been able to work with multiple organizations to change their site configuration to utilize a WGS.“This has created the ability for our satellite controllers to experience a ‘crawl, walk, run’ training plan. This is the first time this site re-configuration has ever been attempted, and has proven to be a success. The ability to look at a different WGS before taking on our new mission has created a real world WGS operating environment at the Alpha Company site.”

This opportunity allows the company to test and validate new standard operating procedures, as well as give the satellite controllers real world experience, while having another operations center sit in the “back-up” seat to coach Alpha Company along.

The 53rd Signal Battalion’s goal of providing the best customer support possible does not stop, no matter what systems they use. “Alpha Company’s new WGS mission is no exception making our long range planning and execution so important,” Anderson said.

“This train-up utilizing organizations and agencies around the world will ultimately ensure the Warfighter has all the satellite resources needed to fulfill their mission for years to come.”

Story by Captain Mark T. Anderson, Commander, Company A, 53rd Signal Battalion, U.S. Army