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Mobile User Objective System (MUOS)

The Navy Advanced Narrowband System (ANS)/Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) was developed as a replacement to the UFO constellation. It provides global SATCOM narrowband (64kpbs and below) connectivity for voice, video and data for US and Allied services. The program wasexecuted as a multi-phased program. As the lead service for UHF MILSATCOM, the Navy (SPAWAR) was charged with the acquisition responsibility for MUOS.

MUOS is an Internet Protocol-based system designed to provide improved communications capabilities to users around the world, regardless of where they are in relation to a satellite, and will provide greater than 10 times the bandwidth capacity compared with the current ultra-high frequency (UHF) constellation. The MUOS Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) system provides significantly increased capacity and coverage, superior voice quality and Internet-like capabilities, enabling warfighters the flexibility to better communicate what they need to, when they need to.

MUOS is a system consisting of five satellites, four ground stations across the globe, a network management system and an integrated WCDMA waveform. The first four MUOS satellites are already operational via their legacy payloads, providing UHF satellite communications (SATCOM) for the DoD and mitigating potential gaps in UHF communications capabilities. The system's WCDMA capability, currently in its test and evaluation stage, employs advanced third-generation cellular technology adapted for military SATCOM.

The system first demonstrated WCDMA voice and data calls via the Army's Manpack radios in 2013, and since conducted testing and training with each of the various service branches. The MUOS constellation and associated network will extend narrowband communications availability well past 2025.

The first phase, a 21-month Concept Exploration phase, was completed in July 2001. Eight industry teams of commercial and Defense Department contractors studied and recommended system concepts and architectures to meet MUOS requirements. Boeing, Globalstar, ICO/Teledesic, INMARSAT, Orbital Sciences, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Spectrum Astro participated in the evaluation of military and commercial concepts.

The Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) is a network of DOD-controlled satellites and associated ground facilities providing narrowband BLOS communication services for a worldwide population of mobile and fixed site terminal users. The ground control segment features a distributed, government-controlled, precedence and priority based resource management system that would be responsive to the communications requirements of commanders with apportioned resources.

The Mobile User Objective System was developed as a replacement to the UFO (UHF Follow On). It would provide global SATCOM narrowband (64kpbs and below) connectivity for voice, video and data for US and Allied services. MUOS was part of an ACAT-1D program headed by SPAWAR to develop a system for the mobile user-on-the-move. Key trade analyses are needed for waveform selection (DS-SS CDMA, TDMA, DAMA, etc.), effects of real world interference and fading (ionospheric scintillation, etc.), antenna and multi-element beam array and active phased array beam designs.

In November 1999 the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command awarded four contracts valued at $700,000 each for Advanced Narrowband System / Mobile User Objective System concept studies. Awards for the concept studies were made to Hughes Space & Communications Company of Los Angeles, Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space of Sunnyvale, Calif., Raytheon Systems Company of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Spectrum Astro, Inc., of Gilbert, Ariz.

More than 20 companies initially indicated interest in the concept studies during an industry day held by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (known as SPAWAR). Four offers were received with multiple companies forming teams to compete for the study awards. The period of performance is six months. These contracts are funded with Research, Development, Test & Evaluation funds. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego is the contracting activity.

MUOS was the first PEO-SCS contracting effort that used a Statement of Objectives (SOO) versus Statement of Work (SOW) in the Request for Proposal. A SOW is basically the Government telling a contractor what to do and how to do it. A SOO outlines what the Government requirements are and gives the contractor the flexibility to propose what the solution should be to meet these requirements.

Advanced narrowband communications technology and the Navy's Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) would replace the current Navy Fleet Satellite Communications (FltSat) satellites and Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UFO) communications satellite constellation over the next two decades. The Navy's UHF communications satellite constellation currently provides narrowband tactical satellite communications to the Defense Department warfighter. The UHF Follow-On constellation, initially launched in 1993, would begin to reach the end of its design life early in the 21st century.

The Navy developed an acquisition strategy to replace the current UHF communications satellite constellation. That strategy consists of three components: (1) procure an 11th UHF Follow-On communications satellite (F11) for launch in late 2003, (2) use commercial satellite assets as much as practical, and (3) procure the MUOS next generation advanced narrowband satellite communications system with an initial operational capability in 2007.

The Mobile User Objective System acquisition would employ full and open competition for multiple small research and development awards beginning in early fiscal year 2000. Follow-up risk reduction contracts would begin in FY 2001 and a combined Engineering and Manufacturing Development / Production contract would be awarded in FY 2003.

The Navy acquired MUOS under new DoD National Security Space Policy directives tailored for space programs. Three acquisition phases are planned, each utilizing full and open competition. The first phase or study phase was broken into two sequential contracted events. The first study event, a 21-month effort for concept exploration, is done. Six industry teams, consisting of commercial and DoD contractors, studied and recommended system concepts and architectures to meet MUOS Operational Requirements Document needs. The second study event, currently underway, is a planned 14-month task using two contractor teams selected to refine the architecture and develop technology. The second phase, Risk Reduction and Design Development, would develop and launch the first satellite along with associated ground infrastructure. The third phase, Acquisition and Operations Support, would procure and support the remainder of the satellites and associated segments.

MUOS used commercial 3G Spectrally Adaptive Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (SA-WCDMA) cellular phone technology with geosynchronous satellites replacing cell towers. It interfaces with a DISN via DoD Teleports to provide access to DISN services and integrate with the Global Information Grid and Transformational Communications Architecture.

MUOS-1 was placed into operational use for legacy terminal users in November 2012, MUOS-2 was launched in July 2013, and the next two MUOS launches were planned for January and August 2015. MUOS-3, launched in January 2015, was accepted by the Navy in June 2015 after on-orbit testing.

After a two-day delay due to tropical storm conditions, the Navy's fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite launched 02 September 2015 at 6:18 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41. MUOS-4, whose signal was acquired approximately three hours after launch, completes the initial operational constellation and provides near global network coverage for warfighters and combatant commanders. This array allows mobile forces, including submarines, surface ships and aircraft, to communicate around the world via the narrowband spectrum.

MUOS-4 would be followed by MUOS-5, which was planned for launch in spring 2016. The US Navy planned to launch the fifth in a series of new military secure communications satellites in May 2016. The US Navy and Lockheed Martin delivered the fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on March 3, prior to its expected May launch.

The MUOS-5 spacecraft would be the third such satellite launched in a 16-month span and would be the latest addition to a network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations that are revolutionizing secure communications for US mobile military forces, the contractor claimed. Users with operational MUOS terminals would be able to seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight around the world and into the Global Information Grid.

MUOS’ new capabilities include simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data, over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system, similar to today’s smart phones, the release added. MUOS-5 would complete the US Navy’s baseline constellation and serve as an on-orbit spare for the system, ensuring the network is always available to support US and allied mobile forces.

MUOS WCDMA began Multiservice Operational Test and Evaluation in November 2015, and it will commence operational use once U.S. Strategic Command accepts the program for operations. The system underwent Multiservice Operational Test and Evaluation in December 2015 and would achieve Full Operational Capability in 2017.

In 2012, PMW 146 was assigned as the single government lead responsible for delivering the end-to-end MUOS system capability, which includes the teleport segment for access to DISN and user terminals. The first terminal to use the new MUOS WCDMA waveform is the Army’s Handheld Manpack Small Form Fit radio (AN/PRC-155). In early 2013, PRC-155 radios successfully completed the first WCDMA voice and data calls using the on-orbit MUOS-1 satellite and routed through the Hawaii ground station. Several legacy software-defined radios are undergoing developmental upgrades and waveform integration via formal acquisition programs and internal research and development endeavors that will provide the MUOS capability to all warfighting segments, including maritime platforms, airborne platforms , stationary platforms and mobile ground forces.

MUOS has successfully demonstrated secure communications capability beyond its specification of 65 degrees north latitude during an in-flight assessment, as well as during an extended duration Navy submarine Arctic exercise. In August 2014, during the Northern Command Arctic Shield Exercise on board Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the commanding officer stated, “MUOS is a very capable system and would appear to almost completely solve our high latitude communications issues.” In another 2014 exercise with an Air Force C-17 aircraft, MUOS achieved the first demonstration of a continuous real-time aircraft and mission data link to Air Mobility Command Mission Data Center and the first interoperability between two different MUOS radios (PRC-155 and ARC-210).

MUOS proved to be just as effective in the southern hemisphere during Pacific Command’s Operation Deep Freeze in November 2014, providing simultaneous voice and data communications between McMurdo Station, Antarctica; the National Science Foundation Headquarters in Christchurch, New Zealand; Space and Naval Warfare System Center Pacific Lab, San Diego; and C-17 sorties in flight. Additionally, Navy Special Warfare Command executed operationally relevant scenario-based testing, demonstrating MUOS tactical communications capability with operational Navy personnel.

As a result of Combatant Commander inquiries on allied interoperability using the new MUOS WCDMA system, Office of the Secretary of Defense and Navy have explored options that will allow key allies access and potentially expand system capacity. In November 2015, U.S. Strategic Command announced a decision to allow allied nations access to the WCDMA payload on the MUOS satellites.

As the full fleet of MUOS satellites is deployed and the program is readied for full operations, PEO Space Systems and PMW 146 are committed to working with stakeholders to deliver the full MUOS end-to-end system capability to warfighters. The MUOS program involves stakeholders from across government and industry.

The Navy's fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite launched at 10:30 a.m. EDT, 24 June 2016, from Space Launch Complex 41 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in the 551 launch vehicle configuration. MUOS-5 is an on-orbit spare and the final satellite in the five-satellite MUOS constellation. The satellite successfully responded to commands from a Navy and Lockheed Martin team operating MUOS-5 from the Naval Satellite Operations Center, Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California.

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