Workaround boosts Teleport satellite access in Pacific
- By Kevin McCaney
- Nov 22, 2013
U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region now have expanded access to the Defense Department’s satellite communications thanks to a cooperative, innovative workaround at the Army’s Regional Hub Node in Guam.
An Army/DOD team built a “slice”—in the form of an interconnecting circuit and a small Teleport contingency package—in the Network-Centric Teleport system, giving forces access to a satellite that was previously out of range, the Army said in an announcement. And, significantly for DOD’s plans to find economical ways of using satellites, they improved access without adding expensive infrastructure.
The Army has five regional hub nodes, or RHNs, spaced out around the globe, that provide satellite services to the Army and Marine Corps. The Teleport system, managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency, is a joint project started in July that serves as a gateway to DOD’s Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS), and leverages some of the Army RHNs’ capability. The Teleport system operates similarly to the Army’s RHNs, but its customers include the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, the Army said.
The Teleport effort uses the capabilities of an Army RHN to deliver voice, video and data to users of the military’s satellite radio Ka-band, and, now, can make use of a satellite, the WGS-4, that had previously been out of reach in the region, said Mike McClelland, Pacific Region Program Manager for the DOD Teleport Program Office.
"Without the RHN, the DOD would have to invest millions in new SATCOM terminals to make this happen," McClelland said.
The WGS constellation of military satellites circle the equator, positioned to provide global coverage. Two of the satellites, WDS-1 and WGS-4 are in the Pacific region, but DISA could conduct missions only using WGS-1.Tapping WGS-4 would have required a ground satellite dish pointed straight at WGS-4, which would have meant building an expensive infrastructure in the right location.
After the workaround, DOD Teleport can now make use of up to 30 percent of WGS-4’s capability, expanding its view of the Pacific, and manage Teleport assets at the Army’s Guam RHN from Hawaii, eliminating the need to send Teleport personnel to Guam.
"The DOD Teleport program has gained a whole new venue to support its customer base," said Joe Vano, RHN project lead for the Army's Project Manager, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, which manages the RHNs. "It's going to enable DOD customers across the board to be much more functional in the Pacific theater."
"This cooperative effort allows DOD Teleport to come into the Army's 'house' and leverage its assets in a very cost effective manner," Vano said. "And given the current fiscal environment, this kind of joint teamwork is not only a big win for our forces, but for the taxpayer as well. It works out great for all parties involved."
Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.