MUOS:  Phone Home Via Space

By Dean ~ March 3rd, 2012. Filed under: Industry.

The “Mobile User Objective System” (MUOS) UHF SATCOM infrastructure will provide an important capability, and like all big challenges (four geosynchronous satellites, four ground stations, end user terminal devices, etc.), it’s experienced some hiccups.  For those interested in a good status update, Defense News recently posted the unfortunately titled story, “Waveform Woes Delay Cellphone-Inspired Satellite Service.”  They provide a nice overview of the current state of the program.  However, I personally quibble with blaming program delays on the waveform, but that’s another story.  This is an incredibly complex endeavor with a seemingly infinite number of dependencies.  As the story eventually points out, there is a great deal still to be done before the program is operational (including finishing the waveform).

However, we can take some heart in the news that Brig. Gen. Michael Williamson was able to demo the capability at GD’s Scottsdale facility:

“The program executive for the Joint Tactical Radio System program, Williamson used a General Dynamics PRC-155 radio to speak to, send text messages and transmit images to other demonstration participants in Scottsdale.  The demonstration used a satellite simulator at the Scottsdale facility and a ground terminal that will be shipped to Sicily for inclusion in the network access site there.”

Although the unfortunate demise of GMR was certainly a setback, GD‘s excellent AN/PRC-155 Manpack radios will provide the first set of operational end user terminals.  I hope that the AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radios won’t be far behind…

GDC4S AN/PRC-155 Front View with Screen Lit

GDC4S AN/PRC-155 Front View
Image Credit: GDC4S

Although the story doesn’t put a stake in the ground regarding a date for full deployment, it’s probably safe to say that parts of the MUOS Internet Protocol network will be running before we’re too far along in 2013.

Once fully operational, MUOS will be a critical component of the secure global communications network.  It will also provide a vital platform to foster innovation from all of the key players, including:  General Dynamics, Raytheon, Rockwell-Collins, Thales and, of course, Harris.  It’s sure an exciting time to be a waveform guy.  I just wish that they didn’t always blame the software for delays!

Image of the Satellite Dishes at the MUOS Ground Station in Hawaii

Satellite Dishes at the MUOS Ground Station in Hawai'i
Wish I was there right now!
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Another View of the GD AN/PRC-155

Another View of the GD AN/PRC-155
Image Credit: GDC4S

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