The Navy has accepted the third satellite of a next generation military communication constellation that promises to bring smart phone-like data rates to deployed troops, maker Lockheed Martin announced this week.
The third Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-3) — launched in January — completed its on orbit testing and will now be relocated to its operational orbit.
“This latest satellite will expand the MUOS network’s coverage over more than three-quarters of the globe, including significantly more coverage north and south than the current legacy voice-only system,” Iris Bombelyn, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for narrowband communications, said in a statement from the company.
The planned $7.3 billion five satellite constellation plans to supersede the 1990s era Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UFO) constellation. The new satellites promise ten times the transfer rates of the UFO net with speeds of up to 384 kbs.
The five MUOS satellites will plan to be used in conjunction with ground stations Hawaii, Italy, Western Australia and Chesapeake, Va.
The fourth satellite is set to launch later this year.
While the MUOS constellation is on its way to completion, the radios the U.S. military will use is still being developed.
The 2011 cancelation of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) has left only the General Dynamics AN/PRC-155 manpack radio as the program of record for regular troops.
In April, radio maker Harris Corporation announced it sold $27 million in Falcon III wideband AN/PRC-117G manpack and AN/PRC-152A handheld radios to U.S. Special Operations Command.