New SATCOM technology provides critical comm resilience

By Mary K. NolanAugust 2, 2022

New SATCOM technology makes critical comms resilient
Satellite Simulator (SATSIM) test bed developed at Tobyhanna Army Depot - The exclusive on-site capability will mitigate many risks associated with commercial testing as it will provide a safe, controlled environment for transmission. (Photo Credit: Thomas Robbins) VIEW ORIGINAL

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pennsylvania - Personnel in the Prototype Integration Testing and Training (PITT) facility of the Satellite Communications (SATCOM) and Site Installation division in the Production Engineering Directorate have collaborated with Project Manager (PM) Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems (DCATS)/PM Wideband Enterprise SATCOM Systems (WESS) and Systems Technologies, Inc. (Systek) to develop a new technology: Digital Intermediate Frequency (DIG IF).

DIG IF technology can provide benefits to many members of the Department of Defense (DoD) SATCOM community. When seconds count, DIG IF offers a higher level of reliability in maintaining critical communication links, as it can instantly reroute transmissions to alternative communication pathways if any one mode goes down. The resiliency of critical communications between terminals is preserved, providing continuous communication readiness to users. DIG IF eliminates vulnerabilities posed by communicating via the internet.

The SATCOM Division of TYAD has a long history and recognized reputation of overhauling and repairing the predecessors of these advanced terminals, which accounts for an institutional knowledge base of operations that sets them ahead of competitors.

TYAD has supported research and development for DIG IF technologies for four years. The Satellite Simulator (SATSIM) test bed developed at TYAD multiplies the capabilities for testing DIG IF satellite transmissions with increased efficiency and exponential cost savings for any SATCOM customer that would otherwise have to purchase expensive commercial airtime. The exclusive on-site capability will mitigate many risks associated with commercial testing as it will provide a safe, controlled environment for transmission.

The collaborative team from PM Wess, Systek and TYAD have given numerous demonstrations to Tobyhanna leadership and other SATCOM stakeholders, showcasing the capabilities and opportunities that DIG IF on-site technology can provide.

“With this, the door swings wide open,” said Dr. A.J. Vigil, senior Systek scientist, positing the vast and varied benefits of locating the DIG IF testing site at TYAD. For example, such technology can be used by Tobyhanna’s Wideband Integration Center - a 25,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility that supports satellite communication control operations for DoD assets and those belonging to allies through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - as well as testing of related software, a mission TYAD also stands ready to support given the opportunity.

In 2018, the PITT facility team began testing of the various components for the system. Program development is expected to continue through 2030. The effort is aligned with Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic plan, TOBY2028-TOBY2035 – specifically the C5ISR Readiness and Shape the Future lines of effort.

Those interested in learning more about DIG IF and SATSIM capabilities can contact the Production Engineering Directorate at (570) 615-8414.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 3,500 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.