Skyward systems. The Defense Department plans to launch an experimental tactical satellite early next year to support battlefield information needs.

Military developers will design, build and launch TacSat-1 at a cost of roughly $15 million, said retired Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski, director of force transformation, in a background paper released late last month by the Office of Force Transformation.

It is the first of a series of tactical satellites that DOD plans to launch over the next several years.

Cebrowski said the experiment 'seeks to blaze a new concept and developmental path for tactical microsatellite exploration.'

The tactical satellite will:
  • Promote machine-to-machine collaboration between air and space units

  • Disseminate data through DOD's Secret IP Router Network

  • Identify and capture information from transmitters on battlefields

  • Carry thermal imaging technology in an on-board infrared camera.

The Navy and Air Force will lead the test. The Navy Research Lab is building the satellite. The Air Force's Space and Missile Center is overseeing the booster, and its 30th Space Wing will provide the launch facility and services.

Bandwidth boost. The Defense Information Systems Agency has opened a station to increase the bandwidth available to networked users.

DOD Teleport-Northwest, located at the Naval Support Activity, Northwest Annex, in Norfolk, Va., is the first of six stations planned by DISA to increase military bandwidth and enhance information sharing.

Each Teleport station will have about 100 Mbps of satellite communications throughput, according to DISA officials.

The program is intended to integrate satellite communications with Defense Information System Network services entry points.

The integration would give deployed users access to unclassified and classified IP services, as well as telephone, videoconferencing and data transfer services.

The military's need for bandwidth was a common topic among Defense IT officials during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, when information needs exceeded the bandwidth available from military satellites, according to DISA officials. DOD users were forced to rely heavily on commercial satellite services.

In September, DOD unveiled a new Teleport Testbed at the Communications Electronics Research and Development Center at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

The telecommunications collection and distribution point, located at the center's Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate, will test new technologies and implement upgrades of satellite systems, CECOM said in an announcement.

The DOD Teleport stations will be located in the United States, Germany, Italy and Japan, permitting global access via military and commercial satellites.

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