The U.S. Navy has successfully connected its older communications satellites with its newer constellation, ensuring interoperability between users with advanced equipment and those still relying on legacy equipment.
The Navy test shows that military operators still operating with legacy UHF equipment can access advanced MUOS features, such as improved connectivity, a ten-fold increase in communications capacity and reduced signal interference.
MUOS, which the U.S. Space Force took over from the Navy last year, was built to replace UHF, a constellation that provided worldwide voice and data communications to more than half of all deployed users, according to the Navy. There are currently four active MUOS satellites with a spare satellite on orbit.
In the demonstration, the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific were able to use a two-channel radio as a translator, taking communications from a UHF-configured radio and retransmitting the data over MUOS and vice versa.
Space Force building more MUOS satellites
The Space Force plans to spend $2.4 billion over the next five years designing, building and launching two new MUOS satellites to extend the lifespan of the constellation. Adding the satellites will enable 70% constellation availability until at least 2034, according to the agency’s budget documents.
The military plans to award contracts to one or two teams. The Space Force met with potential vendors in September to discuss the upcoming solicitation, which is expected to kick off in the second quarter of 2023.
Last month, Congress appropriated $46.8 million for MUOS procurement in the annual defense spending legislation, fully funding the Space Force’s budget request.
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) was the primary contractor for MUOS satellites, with the Navy awarding the company a contract worth up to $3.2 billion in 2004. In 2020, Lockheed Martin secured a contract worth up to $112.7 million over a decade to continue providing sustainment services for the space segment.