US Naval Satellite Operations Center takes control of fifth MUOS satellite

The US Navy’s fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite is now being operated by the Naval Satellite Operations Center (NAVSOC) after completing all on-orbit testing.

The satellite was handed over to NAVSOC by the US Navy’s Communications Satellite Program Office, PMW 146, and Lockheed Martin on October 11.

In April, the Navy, working with Army Forces Strategic Command (ARSTRAT), configured one of MUOS-5’s two communications payloads – its legacy Ultra High Frequency (UHF) payload – for testing.

The handover of this satellite to NAVSOC clears the final hurdle allowing for ARSTRAT to provide the payload’s final configurations to support the Navy’s legacy UHF satellite communications mission.

“Today, every Combatant Command in aircraft, ships, submarines, ground vehicles, as well as by troops in the field and special operations, rely upon secure, beyond-line-of-sight UHF satellite communications provided by the Navy,” said Mark Woempner, Lockheed Martin’s director for Narrowband Communications. ”

ARSTRAT’s final configuration of MUOS-5’s UHF legacy payload allows the satellite to fully support our military forces in these Combatant Commands.”

Eventually, legacy narrowband UHF communications will transition to next generation Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) capabilities. To facilitate that transition, all five on-orbit MUOS satellites were intentionally designed with two communications payloads to support both Legacy UHF and WCDMA.

Early combatant commander testing of the on-orbit WCDMA payloads began in July 2016. The new MUOS capabilities will revolutionize communications for mobile forces with simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system. Users with new MUOS terminals will be able to seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight around the world and into the Global Information Grid, as well as into the Defense Switched Network, as part of the Navy’s worldwide cellular network.

Once fully operational, the MUOS network of five on-orbit satellites and four relay ground stations will provide more than 10 times the communications capacity of the legacy UHF satellite system. MUOS’ network already provides near-global coverage, including communications into polar regions. MUOS also has demonstrated successful communication of Integrated Broadcast Service (IBS) messages.

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