A great documentary on US Air Force Space Satnav GPS satellite program. CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq — The Army's planned satellite frequency changeover from Ku to the Ka-band may seem insignificant; however, this small change represents a multibillion dollar transition.
Since 2000 the U.S. Department of Defense has been in the process of purchasing and deploying the new military Wideband Global Satellite Communication satellites previously known as the wideband gapfiller satellite system, a high-capacity communication satellite for the sole purpose of augmenting the X-band communications now provided by the Defense Satellite Communications System. In the interim, the government has been renting commercial Ku satellite bands at a heavy price.
Lt. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle (ret.), the Army's former chief information officer, recently told a conference that a lack of military satellite capacity resulted in the DoD spending one billion dollars in 2007 on commercial satellite leases.
The Ka-band changeover represents a huge step by the Defense Department in their investment in a DoD-only satellite network. This new satellite network will save American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year as well as provide more bandwidth and flexibility to its military users where ever they find themselves.
The Ka-band allows improved network communications for more reliable and more mobile communication systems on the battlefield.
Members of the 256th Network Support Company, 17th Fires Brigade, from Fort Lewis, Wash., are excited about the change to the Ka-band. The communication Soldiers are proud to provide even greater network support for the Thunderbolt Brigade and its subordinate units throughout southern Iraq.
As the 1st Infantry Division assumes responsibility of United States Division-South, the brigade will be one of many units within the area to take advantage of the Ka-band capabilities available to the DoD network. USD-S has been selected to lead the way in Iraq as the Army transitions from its reliance on commercial satellite leases.
As with any new piece of equipment, training was conducted recently by General Dynamics Field Service Representatives. Soldiers supporting the outlying camps came to COB Basra for the intensive 40-hour training on the switch process to the Ka-band. The training gave 256th NSC Soldiers the hands-on experience they needed to ensure that the changeover went smoothly for 17th Fires Brigade and its supported units.
"This training was crucial in ensuring that each team was fully capable of accomplishing the mission of changing over to the new Ka feed system," Sgt. Dane Scharff, team chief, said.
Benefits of the Ka-band network have military commanders looking forward to the fulfillment of promises of faster, more flexible Video Tele-Conferencing and faster more reliable phone, email and internet services.
Already enjoying the benefits of the Ka-band, Sgt. Shelby Coulter, the senior ranking satellite communicator for 256th NSC, summed up the changeover.
"This Ka changeover has provided end users with noticeably more bandwidth and helped smooth out communications within our unit," Coulter said.
Communication is critical to U.S. Department of Defense operations and the move to the Ka frequency highlights a large step in achieving DoD satellite self-sufficiency, increased networking capabilities and a move towards more fiscally responsible spending.
Video Description Credit: 1st Lt. Austin Minter
Video Credit: Staff Sgt. Michael Brady
Thumbnail Credit: NASA Modified by ArmedForcesUpdate