ViaSat-1 was previously used to demonstrate a protected tactical waveform. (photo courtesy of Space Systems/Loral)
Secure communications are a necessity for military operations— from front-line deployed forces to remotely piloted aircraft missions. A demonstration of an unclassified but secure, anti-jam waveform—in tandem with a small, low-cost satellite terminal—recently proved to be a viable approach to protecting such communications.
The modem demonstration involved key elements of the waveform, which is similar to the military’s most complex waveform, Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF). Raytheon’s protected tactical waveform can operate on a variety of bands including Q, X, and Ka. It provides secure, anti-jam, low-probability-of-intercept capabilities, which are unavailable on current unprocessed or unprotected satellites. The flexibility across frequency bands will provide tactical users with the protected communications they need at a cost-effective price when used with existing and future satellites.
This marks the first of three phases under a US Air Force study known as the Design for Affordability and Risk Reduction. That study will help the government chart the course for future military satellite-communication terminals.
Another contractor in the study, Boeing, successfully transmitted protected communications on a high-capacity satellite platform in July 2013. In the demonstration, Boeing used the government’s protected tactical waveform to securely transmit information over ViaSat-1, illustrating how anti-jam bandwidth could be added in a cost-effective manner. The government signal is compatible with industry standards and multiple frequency bands.