Lockheed Martin recently announced a $339.6-million contract option from the U.S. Navy for the 5th and final planned satellite in the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) constellation. Under the current plan, the 5th satellite would serve as an on-orbit spare, and the capstone of a $3.26 billion acquisition program – though schedule slips have delayed the launch of even the 1st MUOS satellite from 2009 to December 2011.
MUOS will replace Boeing’s 601-based Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UFO) system that built 11 birds, providing a variety of UHF, SHF, EHF, and Global Broadcast Service links. UFO is crashing under the military’s spiking bandwidth demands, however, and Lockheed’s new A2100 based MUOS design will offer about 10 times UFO’s communications capacity.
One way to think of MUOS is as a global service provider that converts a commercial 3G WCDMA cell phone system to a military UHF SATCOM radio system that can carry voice, data, and multimedia to mobile forces. Using the UHF frequency band is very helpful, as the signal is more likely to penetrate obstacles that would filter out conventional wCDMA (which is actually an evolution of the GSM cellphone standard, not CDMA).
The US Navy’s PEO Space Systems in Chantilly, VA and its Navy Communications Satellite Program Office in San Diego, CA manage the MUOS program. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA leads a MUOS team that includes:
* Lockheed Martin’s Commercial Space Systems unit in Newtown, PA (base system development)
* Boeing Defense, Space and Security in El Segundo, CA (legacy terminal compatibility payload)
* General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale, AZ (user-entry and integrated ground segment, JTRS link, network management); * Harris Corp. in Melbourne, FL (mesh reflectors)
* Ericsson in Plano, TX (portions of the integrated ground segment).
The consultancy Accenture has been involved helping the US Navy, and places the program’s overall value at $6.2 billion over its entire lifespan.
March 7/19: Engineering Services The US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command awarded Lockheed Martin a $92.9 million contract modification for engineering services on the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). The modification also includes interim logistics services, spares and associated material. MUOS is a narrowband military satellite communication system designed to secure ultra-high frequency satcom activities for mobile force. The system employs radio terminals built to link up with the Global Information Grid and support mobile and tactical operations on the ground, at sea or in the air. It supports a worldwide, multiservice population of users, providing modern netcentric communications capabilities while supporting legacy terminals. The MUOS satellite network is expected to achieve full operational capability in 2017 and ensure the availability of UHF narrowband communications for the US Navy past 2025. The MUOS is also expected to serve the Australian defense forces. Work under the modification is scheduled to be finished in October 2020 and will take place in Arizona and California.
August 17/15: A fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite is being prepared for launch aboard an Atlas V rocket at the end of August. The Lockheed Martin-manufactured satellite will be joined by a fifth satellite, intended to serve as an on-orbit spare for the constellation. Designed to provide next-generation communications capability, the Navy project has been valued at $6.2 billion over its entire lifespan. Last week the Navy ordered MUOS-compatible Digital Modular Radio sets from Northrop Grumman to equip vessels.
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