Army, DOD team together to increase Pacific military satellite access
November 20, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 20, 2013) -- By building a "slice" of its larger Network-Centric Teleport system at the Army's Regional Hub Node in Guam, the Department of Defense can access an additional military satellite that was previously out of its reach and improve its support in the Asia-Pacific region.
"The DOD Teleport program has gained a whole new venue to support its customer base, which includes the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy," said Joe Vano, Regional Hub Node, or RHN, project lead for the Army's Project Manager, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, which manages the RHNs. "It's going to enable DOD customers across the board to be much more functional in the Pacific theater."
The joint project began in July, and following testing, recently began supporting new users. The endeavor is another win for the DOD in its continued push to veer away from expensive commercial satellite use toward the more efficient utilization of its own military Wideband Global SATCOM, known as WGS, satellites, Vano said.
The extensive satellite communications, known as SATCOM, capabilities of RHNs enable regionalized reach-back to the Army's global network. WIN-T is the backbone of the Army's tactical communications network, which provides Soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications. The five RHNs strategically located around the globe reside at the upper-most level of the WIN-T network architecture and support Army and Marine Corps users.
"Without the RHN, the DOD would have to invest millions in new SATCOM terminals to make this happen," said Mike McClelland, Pacific Region PM for the DOD Teleport Program Office.
Managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency, the DOD Teleport System is a SATCOM gateway that links the deployed Warfighter to Defense Information System Network services, the DOD's enterprise network, through a variety of DOD Teleport sites strategically located around the world. Its role is similar to the Army's RHNs, but it supports a different customer base that includes the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy.
The new joint Teleport effort is unique in that it relies on the transport capabilities of an Army RHN to deliver voice, video and data to the Ka-band (military satellite radio frequency) DOD Teleport user, and for the first time leverages the WGS-4 spacecraft, McClelland said.
The DOD's WGS system, a constellation of highly capable military communications satellites, leverages cost-effective methods and technological advances to provide worldwide, high data rate and long-haul communications for U.S. forces and international partners.
WGS satellites are positioned above the equator at different locations to provide global coverage. Prior to the effort, DOD Teleport only had one Ka-band terminal operating in the Pacific region -- its Teleport in Hawaii. However, there are two WGS satellites on station in the Pacific. The Defense Information Systems Agency could only conduct missions on the WGS-1 satellite through the Hawaii Teleport; it didn't have the capability to conduct missions on WGS-4.
In order to utilize WGS-4, it needed a ground satellite dish pointed directly at the WGS-4 satellite in space, and it didn't have that large, very expensive infrastructure in the required location.
"WGS-4 is positioned further west than WGS-1, which is very attractive for the DOD Teleport user base because of current operational requirements that require a better 'view' of the Pacific region," Vano said.
Project Manager, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical and the DOD Teleport Program Office developed a cooperative work-around to satisfy these requirements. By installing an interconnecting circuit and a small Teleport contingency package at the Guam RHN, DOD Teleport will now be able to utilize up to 30 percent of the RHN Guam WGS-4 antenna radio frequency capability. In addition, DOD Teleport assets at the Guam RHN can be managed from its Hawaii Teleport site, eliminating the need for DOD Teleport personnel at the Army's site.
"This cooperative effort allows DOD Teleport to come into the Army's 'house' and leverage its assets in a very cost effective manner," Vano said. "And given the current fiscal environment, this kind of joint teamwork is not only a big win for our forces, but for the taxpayer as well. It works out great for all parties involved."