NRL Inclined-Orbit Satellite Link is a First for Sea-Based Joint Air Operations Center (JOAC)

7/30/2002 - 30-02r
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (202) 767-2541

The Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Information Technology Division recently supported a groundbreaking experiment in interservice satellite networking for the military.

In a tasking from Pacific Air Force Base headquarters, the Space Warfare Center's Air Force Space Battlelab conducted a joint Navy-Air Force demonstration with the Commander, Third Fleet (C3F) to prove the capability of using Ku-band inclined-orbit assets at high throughput rates (in excess of 5.6 Mbps). The Naval Warfare Development Center volunteered its support and asked members of NRL's Satellite and Wireless Networking Section to provide satellite connectivity to a Navy command vessel afloat, using an inclined-orbit
Ku-band satellite.

NRL principal investigator, Michael Rupar, called the demonstration a success, noting that it illustrated the possibilities for using inclined-orbit satellites to support naval networks afloat. The advantage of using inclined-orbit commercial satellites is that they are often positioned for use in open ocean areas, which is not typical of traditional Ku-band satellites. Rupar notes that using inclined-orbit satellites can generate cost savings of up to 50% on satellite bandwidth and increase the lifetime of the satellite.

Forces at sea with tracking antenna systems are well equipped for using such satellites, requiring minimal adjustment with existing shipboard terminals, but inclined orbit satellites, which require more complex Earth-station tracking systems have rarely been identified for military use, says Rupar. As the role of commercial inclined-orbit satellites has recently expanded, the Department of Defense has made the necessary hardware investment.

The NRL team used a 2.4m satellite terminal that it had installed on board the USS Coronado (AGF11) to support last year's Fleet Battle Experiment (FBE)­India and this year's FBE­Juliet. Over a three-day period, a high-data-rate networked full-duplex link was repeatedly established between the Coronado and a mobile lightweight multiband satellite terminal co-located at the Pacific Air Operations Center (PAOC), Hickam AFB, HI.

Members of the 56th Air Communications Squadron at Hickam participating in the exercise established data, voice and video teleconferencing over the link, transferring Air Tasking Orders (ATO) and data files with great success, reports Rupar. C3F used the Theater Battle Management Core System to build, correlate, distribute, and execute ATOs up to 3,500 sorties between the USS Coronado and PAOC in Hawaii to simulate a mobile operation JAOC aboard ship.

This exercise used the NewSkies 513 satellite, and required tracking motion of 5 degrees in both azimuth and elevation over a 24-hour period.

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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory provides the advanced scientific capabilities required to bolster our country's position of global naval leadership. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to advance research further than you can imagine. For more information, visit the NRL website or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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