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Next-gen satellite communications system ready for use, U.S. Navy says

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The U.S. Navy’s next-generation satellite communications system passed its final test before operational capability determination, the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command said.

The Mobile User Objective System [MUOS] this week completed its required Multiservice Operational Test and Evaluation [MOT&E], which involved the Navy, Marine Corps and Army, and was judged to be operationally effective.

“Since MOT&E was the last prerequisite, we expect FOC [Full Operational Capability] designation shortly,” NAVWAR spokesman Steven Davis told USNI News. The test was the last critical milestone before involving MUOS in full operations.

The system uses a constellation of five satellites to obtain global connectivity to terminals, platforms, tactical operators and operations centers. Each satellite carries a communications payload to maintain Department of Defense narrowband communications during the transition to MUOS, and the advanced MUOS Wideband Code Division Multiple Access capability.

The MUOS system can carry 10 times the data of the slower and less mobile Ultra High-Frequency Follow-On satellite communication system developed in the 1990s, which it replaces.

The MUOS system can also simultaneously transmit voice, video and mission data to military networks. Its radios operate from anywhere around the world at speeds considered comparable to those of smartphones delivering photos to social media.

The program was originally estimated to achieve full operational capability in January 2017, a time estimate adjusted after tests in 2016 called it “not operationally effective and not operationally suitable.”

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