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Chapter 8

Tactical Satellite Communications Operations

8-1. General

a. TACSATCOM helps to fulfill the need for command and control communications on the modern battlefield. TACSATCOM has the following assets and features:

  • Extended range.
  • High transmission reliability.
  • Rapid emplacement.
  • Easy siting.
  • System flexibility.
  • Survivability.
  • Burst transmission and low power output capability.

b. These critical requirements are not fully satisfied by terrestrial communications systems. However, the Army is fielding GMF satellite communications that will complement communications links now served by LOS radio relay troposcatter and HF SSB radio systems. This satellite communications capability will greatly improve command and control communications.

8-2. Advantages

TACSATCOM systems are uniquely capable of meeting the above parameters. Their proficiency lends a broader scope to communications.

a. Range. The number of satellite terminals that can be supported in a theater of operation depends upon the location of each terminal with respect to the satellite antenna footprint, mode of operation, number of channels used, and condition/gain setting of the satellite itself.

b. Reliability. The TACSAT links will be equipped with organic antijam circuitry to enable them to survive certain degrees of intentional and unintentional radio interference. However, severe weather can cause satellite links to degrade.

c. Rapid emplacement. Set up and tear down of the ground terminal takes about 30 minutes.

d. Easy siting. High ground is not required; rather, natural terrain features, such as valleys, can be used to shield the terminal from detection or interference from ground-based emitters. However, masking of the antenna must be avoided. This will require level ground and may require low horizon and open area.

e. Flexibility. Since all TACSATCOM terminals in a given theater use the same satellite, connectivity can be quickly reconfigured providing great flexibility in changing battlefield conditions. The TACSAT link can provide continuous communications between widely dispersed elements of a highly mobile tactical force.

f. Survivability. The mobility of these terminals, large bandwidths, antijam capability, and siting advantages greatly reduce the threat to satellite terminals. However, if the satellite becomes inoperative for any reason, the TACSATCOM system is shut down.

8-3. Deployment

a. The terminals will augment selected HF, LOS, and tropo multichannel systems from brigades to theater Army. They will satisfy critical command and control multichannel transmission requirements from the maneuver brigade level through echelons above corps. In most cases, multichannel GMF/TACSATCOM will reduce the number of terrestrial LOS and tropospheric scatter terminals required to support a force, but will not eliminate the need for terrestrial multichannel communications. The terrestrial multichannel terminals will be used to support less critical and/or shorter communications links.

b. The AN/PSC-3 and AN/VSC-7 will be used by special forces and ranger units for minimum essential communications. The AN/URC-101 and AN/URC-110 are used for special contingency units at selected corps and division level. The AN/MSC-64 will be used primarily for emergency action record traffic in units required to be in the special communications system network.

c. The multichannel SHF system (AN/TSC-85A and AN/TSC-93A) will augment the multichannel systems at corps, division, and brigade level. For example, a TACSATCOM system will be assigned to a separate brigade, giving the separate brigade a fast moving, flexible, and reliable communications capability with its higher headquarters. For doctrinal deployment at division level, see FM 11-50.


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