Lockheed Martin gives next-gen secure comms satellite tick for operational use

Stephen Kuper

The Lockheed Martin-designed and built Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), designed to provide a satellite-based cellular network to revolutionise secure communications for mobile forces, is now ready for full operational use in warfighting environments.

Lockheed Martin gives next-gen secure comms satellite tick for operational use
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The MUOS, developed by prime contractor Lockheed Martin with ground systems provider General Dynamics Mission Systems, was deemed operationally effective, operationally suitable and cyber survivable, following successful completion of its multi-service operational test and evaluation (MOT&E).

The rigorous MOT&E, conducted by the US Navy’s Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, included participation from the US Army and the US Marine Corps.

Mobile forces have been conducting early testing and training on MUOS since the network was approved for early combatant command use in July 2016. In August 2018, US Strategic Command approved MUOS for expanded operational use to include non-combat operations – like humanitarian response, disaster relief and further training.

The successful MOT&E now makes MUOS’ advanced communications capabilities fully available to the tactical warfare environment.

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Kay Sears, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s military space line of business, said, "MUOS is a game changer for our troops, providing incredible new voice and data capabilities with near global coverage from satellites that act like cell towers 22,000 miles above the Earth."

Comprised of five geosynchronous satellites and four geographically dispersed relay ground stations, the MUOS network brings to mobile forces new, simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data over a secure high-speed IP-based system.

"Imagine leaping in technology from a walkie-talkie to a modern cellular phone with global reach. This is what MUOS is for our troops and its network technology will provide more than 10 times the communications capacity the legacy UHF SATCOM system can provide," Sears added. 

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. MUOS also has demonstrated successful communication of Integrated Broadcast Service (IBS) messages.

Manny Mora, vice president and general manager for the space and intelligence systems line of business at General Dynamics Mission Systems, said, "MUOS will provide a level of voice and data communications capability that warfighters have never had using legacy SATCOM systems. With voice clarity and data speed rivalling what civilians enjoy on their cellphones, MUOS delivers a tactical communications and operational advantage. Wherever our forces are deployed, MUOS will be there."

Today, MUOS’ satellites, built by Lockheed Martin, provide both the advanced, new Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform and legacy SATCOM UHF communications signals to support troops as they transition over to the more-versatile cellular network.

MUOS’ ground system, built by General Dynamics Mission Systems, has two locations in the US, one in Australia and one in Europe – each supporting the system’s global, beyond-line-of-sight, narrow-band communications reach.

The Navy's Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence and Space Systems (PEO C4 and Space Systems), and its Communications Satellite Program Office responsible for the MUOS program, are based in San Diego, California.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 105,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

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