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Boeing tests new tricks to secure military telecom

Jan. 13, 2014 at 7:18 PM   |   Comments

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The Boeing Co. said Monday it has successfully tested new technology that will make it easier and cheaper for the U.S. military to send secure communications via satellite.

"This technology boosts the ability of warfighters to send protected information without enemy data interference by using currently available satellites that do not have anti-jamming technology of their own," Boeing Vice President and General Manager of Space and Intelligence Systems Craig Cooning said.

The innovation is seen by security industry analysts as an internationally significant product with marketing and export potential.

Boeing said its experts applied new anti-jamming technology to an existing military satellite for the first time, expanding the military's potential to access secure communications more affordably.

In a test conducted Dec. 15, Boeing sent a government-developed, protected signal through the sixth Wideband Global SATCOM satellite, also known as WGS-6. Engineers confirmed the signal met all targets for accuracy and strength.

The demonstration follows a successful transmission of data over the ViaSat-1 commercial satellite in July, which showed that the technology offers an "affordable option" for enhancing anti-jam communications using existing commercial and U.S. government satellites and terminals.

"The two demonstrations show the technology is flexible and able to be quickly deployed at a much lower cost than building a new satellite," Cooning said.

For both tests, Boeing said, the signal was sent using a commercial modem that ViaSat modified with anti-jamming features. Boeing plans to continue to develop and test the technology for compatibility with other terminals and systems in 2014.

Comparative costs for various technology options were not discussed.

Boeing is one of several contractors selected by the U.S. Air Force Space Command to participate in a study called the Protected Military Satellite Communications Design for Affordability Risk Reduction.

Meanwhile, a fifth Mobile User Objective System satellite built by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Navy is entering its first system test ahead of schedule, the company said.

Iris Bombelyn, vice president of Narrowband Communications at Lockheed Martin, said the fifth satellite in the series "shows strong learning curve benefits," and work on the craft was 20 percent ahead of schedule.

Several competing military communications systems are being used or tested in other countries in and outside NATO and Europe. Both China and Russia have devised their own communications systems, aiming to make their military exchanges impenetrable.

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