Satnews Daily
February 22nd, 2011

U.S.A.F. ... Over The Air With FAB-T (MILSATCOM)

Milstar satellite
[SatNews] The U.S. Air Force has successfully demo'd over-the-air, low-data-rate communication between an orbiting Milstar satellite and the family of Advanced Beyond line-of-sight Terminals.

The January 26th demo included a series of uplink and downlink communication tests that involved passing voice and data communication between a 3G (Block 8) FAB-T unit and the legacy Milstar satellite. The FAB-T unit used its low-data-rate software to transmit through its newly developed large aircraft antenna. The Block 8 FAB-T terminal offers high-data-rate communications with Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) satellites, but also provides backward capability with legacy Milstar satellites using low-data-rate communications. Boeing and its industry team — L-3 Communications, Rockwell Collins and ViaSat, Inc. — will conduct a series of terminal integration, software testing and flight testing activities before building this survivable, secure command and control system. Boeing is developing both low-data-rate and high-data-rate terminals and software as part of the overall system. Successful testing of an earlier version of the low-data-rate terminal software assessed signal acquisition and data downlink and was completed in September 2007. The Boeing System Integration and Testing Lab in Huntington Beach includes 12 FAB-T systems with connections to three antennas, allowing simultaneous over-the-air operation. This facility will support in-depth FAB-T system integration tests in 2011.

The FAB-T products include software-defined radios capable of protected communication, antennas and associated user interface hardware and software that will provide the government with a survivable and powerful system. The program is scheduled to enter flight testing in 1QFY2013 and exercise low rate initial production option in 3QFY2013. FAB-T is managed by the MILSATCOM Systems Directorate at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. The MILSATCOM Systems Directorate executes an annual budget over $2.4B as it plans for, acquires and sustains space-based global communications in support of the President, Secretary of Defense, and combat forces. The MILSATCOM enterprise consists of satellites, terminals and control stations and provides communications for over 16,000 air, land and sea platforms.