stations around the world that connect MUOS into one
seamless system, and it is “essentially where the brains
of the system resides,” Kan said.
The sites for the ground stations were selected in
2007, and are located in Australia, Italy, Southeast
Virginia and Hawaii.
That portion of the MUOS system has not exactly
gone off without a hitch. Local residents who live near
the proposed station in Sicily, Italy, have formed a
movement against MUOS and are battling the Navy in
the courts. Residents are worried about the potential
health effects of the 60-foot MUOS satellite dishes as
well as how the site would affect the protected
Sughereta Nature Reserve nearby.
Kan expressed confidence that the Navy will come to
some sort of agreement with the local residents and the
Italian government. No operations can happen at the site
as it is under a restriction placed by the courts through
two court cases, one administrative and one criminal.
“The legal case is just one of our engagements
there,” he said. “The other big engagement is really
led by the Department of State,
particularly led by the U.S. ambas-
sador to Italy and his engagement
with the Italian government. …
Both of those thrusts are in
progress today, and we certainly
expect the issue to be resolved,
hopefully, very soon.”
Meanwhile, the MUOS constel-
lation has been progressing well.
The first three satellites are on and
supporting warfighters today, Kan
said, and the WCDMA payload
has been used for testing in exer-
“A number of different organizations are using systems on a daily
basis to test them and to prepare for
its use when that comes,” he said.
“The IOC will occur later this year,
and we’re working very hard with
U.S. Strategic Command [STRAT-
COM] to make that a reality.”
Even though the MUOS satel-
lites are available for use, they are
being used for testing, rather than
operations, right now because
STRATCOM has not yet accepted
the system for operations. The pro-
gram first will need to satisfactorily
demonstrate capability and go
through operational testing. Once
that process is followed it will be
cleared for wide operational use.
It is not too early to start thinking about a follow-on
to MUOS. Satellite systems, like any other asset, have a
finite life, and the acquisition process for a new program is long. As a result, Kan’s program has started discussions with the Navy about early plans for a follow-on system, and he expects that an analysis of alternatives will be conducted around the fiscal 2018 time
frame, with a requirements analysis a year before that.
But, for now, the focus is on getting the full MUOS
system online. And when it is, it will certainly be worth
the wait, Kan said, noting that it will have 10 times the
capacity of legacy satellites.
“What that translates to is a lot more tactical users will
be able to use MUOS,” he said, comparing the satellites
to cell towers in space. “Just like when you pick up your
cellphone, you can recognize voice — it’s very clear.
That’s what MUOS brings. The voice clarity is phenomenal. And then I think the last big point with MUOS is the
IP- [Internet Protocol-] based inherent ability to not only
talk to each other, but also to send data.” ;
The U.S. Navy’s fourth Mobile User Objective System communications satellite,
encapsulated in a 5-meter payload fairing, lifted off from Space Launch
Complex- 41 at Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sept. 2. On-orbit testing of the satellite was
completed Nov. 30 and the Navy formally accepted it in December.