By Vice Adm. Jan E. Tighe
Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. TENTH Fleet
With the launch of the third Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite Jan. 20 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, the U.S. Navy is one step closer to vastly improving secure satellite communications for mobile U.S. forces.
MUOS is the next-generation narrowband tactical communications system that operates like a smartphone network from space.
As some of you may know, the Navy is responsible for providing narrowband satellite communications for the Department of Defense (DoD) and delivers this capability under the operational control of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/C10F.
Fleet Cyber Command is the Navy’s central operational authority for the Navy portion of the space constellation and the Naval Satellite Operations Center (NAVSOC) team under Fleet Cyber Command “flies” the MUOS satellites as they become operational.
The MUOS operational capability will assure users, particularly those carrying radios in the field or while dismounted on patrol, secure on-demand voice and data communication services, both in point-to-point mode and through networked communications.
This 24-7 on-demand satellite communication is the lifeblood U.S. forces to conduct operations around the world. Our teammates across the DoD can rest assured that we are operating MUOS as a warfighting platform, delivering capability when and where it is needed. Indeed the first of our five strategic goals* at U.S. Fleet Cyber Command is to operate the Navy network – which includes Space assets – as a warfighting platform.
Ultimately, the MUOS satellite constellation will provide users with 10 times more communications capacity over the existing system by leveraging modern mobile communications technology and simultaneous voice and data capability.
In addition to providing continuous, beyond line-of-sight communication for all branches of the U.S. military, the Navy-delivered space-based narrowband capability also ensures reliable worldwide coverage for emergency assistance, disaster response, and humanitarian relief.
The MUOS program is managed by our teammates the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Space Systems, Chantilly, Va., and its Communications Satellite Program Office in San Diego, California.
All MUOS satellites also have capability to provide legacy narrowband communications from geosynchronous orbit positions 22,000 miles above Earth. The MUOS satellite constellation and associated network will extend narrowband communications availability well past 2025.
Fleet Cyber Command’s vision is to conduct operations in and through cyberspace, the electromagnetic spectrum, and space to ensure Navy and Joint/Coalition freedom of action and decision superiority while denying the same to our adversaries. We will win in these domains through our collective commitment to excellence and by strengthening our alliances with entities across the US government, Department of Defense, academia, industry, and our foreign partners.
* The value the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command team brings to Navy and Joint commanders moving forward will be measured based on our ability to:
- Operate the Navy network as a warfighting platform;
- Conduct tailored signals intelligence (SIGINT);
- Deliver warfighting effects;
- Create shared cyber situational awareness; and
- Establish and mature Navy’s Cyber Mission Forces.
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