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Army Link News

Tobyhanna producing components for new all-services satellite radio

by Anthony Ricchiazzi

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa., (Army News Service, March 27, 1998) -- Tobyhanna is supporting the design and manufacture of a radio for all branches of the Armed Forces.

Depot personnel designed and built prototype components for the AN/PSC-5 "Spitfire" Satellite Radio Terminal, which replaces the AN/PSC-3.

"The Spitfire is an enhanced manpack radio with embedded secure communications and digital DAMA [Demand Assigned Multiple Access] SATCOM modem components used for voice and data transmission," said Mark Fagotti, electronics engineer, Satellite Communications Directorate. "This terminal is endorsed by the National Security Agency and is the standard in the Department of Defense. We were tasked by the Program Manager for Military Satellite Communications at the Communications-Electronics Command to design and build various devices used with the terminal."

Engineering Laboratory and Sheet Metal Assembly personnel built prototype remote control devices, synchronous/asynchronous adapters, data/COMSEC interface cables, front panel protectors, desktop stands, and other items for the 11.7-pound, backpack radio.

"Most of the items are new; however, we did not have any trouble building them," said electronics technician Don Pukita, Engineering Laboratory. "The remote control device is small, making it a bit tricky to work with. But most of the work consisted of figuring out cable lengths and fitting the components correctly."

Fagotti said efforts have begun for large-scale manufacturing of these components in Tobyhanna's Systems Integration Directorate.

"The advantage of these radios is that they allow communications anywhere in the world," Fagotti said. "A unit stationed overseas can reliably communicate with their headquarters in the U.S., for example, through satellite links. Other radios depend on line-of-sight or bouncing signals off layers of the atmosphere, and are not as reliable as satellite communications."

One unique aspect of the mission is that everything Tobyhanna personnel have designed and built can be found on the website of the Program Manager for Military Satellite Communications.

The information is organized in such a way that a typical user can select what he/she needs from a list of items supplied by Tobyhanna and various other contractors.

Anyone opening the page will see Tobyhanna's name and what Tobyhanna personnel accomplished to support the PSC-5. Photographs and drawings of the actual items which Tobyhanna designed and built can be found on the site.

"Another unique aspect of this program is that the website is set up so that users can order parts through the site," Fagotti pointed out. "They order something and CECOM comes to us to fill the orders. This is first such arrangement that I know of." Tobyhanna is actually benefitting from this form of free advertising."

Initial funding for the mission is $222,000. However this will increase as orders for items are received.

The PSC-5 website address is: http://www.symbolic.com/milsatcom/milsatcom.htm. In order to access detailed technical data on the website, users of the PSC-5 radio must first register by calling 1-888-645-7288 to obtain a password.

(Editor's note: Ricchiazzi, is a writer with the Tobyhanna Army Depot's public affairs office.)



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