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Satnews Daily
August 5th, 2018

Expanded Operational Use for MUOS for U.S. Navy Authorized by U.S. Strategic Command

Marines from the 1st Marine Division test out the Mobile User Objective System at a Field User Evaluation in Camp Pendleton, California. MUOS is a satellite communication system that uses commercial cell phone technology on the battlefield. Marine Corps Systems Command will begin fielding MUOS in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Photo is courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps — Eddie Young

The U.S. Navy has announced that U.S. Strategic Command has approved the service’s next-generation, narrowband satellite communication system for expanded operational use, this according to a news report in the AFCEA's online Signal Magazine infopage.

The news article, written by George I. Seffers, the publication's Technology Editor, reveals that this authorization paves the way for U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps “early-adopter” commands to use the system on deployment as early as this fall, primarily in the Pacific theater, according to the written announcement. The Navy's on orbit, five-satellite constellation — the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) — began providing legacy satellite communications shortly after the system’s first satellite launch in 2012.

Each MUOS satellite has dual capability. The legacy satellite communications payload was designed to maintain legacy narrowband communications for the Defense Department while the advanced MUOS capability came online. The full-suite MUOS payload, known as Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform, adapts commercial cellular technology to allow warfighters to communicate beyond-line-of-sight, more securely and reliably than before, and with 10 times the capacity compared to the legacy capability, the announcement states.  

On June 24, 2016, the U.S. Navy’s fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite launched at 10:30 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in the 551 launch vehicle configuration.

With the MUOS constellation on orbit, the ground and network management system operational, and the WCDMA waveform available for end-user radios, operators today with MUOS WCDMA radios are connecting beyond line-of-sight around the globe, transmitting simultaneous voice, video and mission data on an Internet Protocol-based system that connects to military networks. MUOS-enabled radio population continues to be the limiting factor for greater MUOS WCDMA use.

The system could be declared fully operational following Multi-Service Test and Evaluation next summer.

The Marine Corps announced in June that it would be the first service to widely deploy MUOS, largely due to its investment in MUOS-portable radios over the past six years. The Marine Corps is slated to begin initial MUOS fielding in the fourth quarter of 2018, followed by initial operational capability in the first quarter of 2019.