Lockheed Martin announced on 24 April that its fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5) now delivering secure, beyond-line-of-sight UHF communications. The US Navy (USN), working with Army Forces Strategic Command, configured one of MUOS-5’s two communications payloads – its legacy UHF payload – to provide additional support for the USN’s legacy UHF satellite communications mission. Today, narrowband UHF communications are used by every Combatant Command in aircraft, ships, submarines, ground vehicles, as well as by troops in the field and special operations. Eventually, legacy narrowband UHF communications will transition to next-generation Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) capabilities provided by MUOS. To facilitate that transition, MUOS was intentionally designed with two communications payloads.
“Each MUOS satellite can simultaneously support both new WCDMA waveform capabilities and legacy UHF satellite communications,” Mark Woempner, Director of Narrowband Communications Systems at Lockheed Martin, explained. “With MUOS 1-4 already on orbit providing near global WCDMA coverage, MUOS-5 will actively support legacy UHF communications and serve as an on-orbit WCDMA spare.”
MUOS-5 is the latest addition to a network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations that is revolutionising communications for mobile forces. 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. The system’s include simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data over a secure high-speed IP-based system.
More than 55,000 currently fielded radio terminals can be upgraded to be MUOS-compatible, with many of them requiring just a software upgrade. Once fully operational, MUOS will provide users with more than 10 times the communications capacity of the legacy system it will replace. The network provides near-global coverage, including the polar regions.