EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Dec. 18, 1998 – The U.S. Navy put its new Ka-band capabilities to use this week, demonstrating its Global Broadcast Service (GBS) in a video link with satellite builder Hughes Space and Communications Company. With the revolutionary GBS payload, the Navy’s UHF Follow-On satellites are among the first operational systems, government or commercial, to carry Ka-band.

Hughes completed all in-orbit testing in early December of the UHF, EHF and GBS payloads on UHF F-9, its latest military satellite. UHF F-9 was launched Oct. 20 by Lockheed Martin's International Launch Services business unit from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. Hughes began moving the satellite today from its Pacific Ocean test spot to its operational slot over the Atlantic. The satellite is expected to go into service in mid-January.

Using one of F-9’s Ka-band transponders Wednesday, Capt. Jim Loiselle, the Navy’s UHF Follow-On program manager (PEO-SCS PMW-146), broadcast real-time and recorded video from San Diego and thanked Hughes employees who built the satellite. GBS is adapted from Hughes’ commercial direct-to-home television technology, to provide high-speed, high-quality, wideband broadcast signals to warfighters in all branches of the military, on land, at sea and in the air.

UHF F-9 is the second of three UHF satellites that carry the first GBS payloads for the Defense Department. The three satellites will provide near-worldwide broadband coverage. The GBS package revolutionizes communications for the full range of the Defense Department’s high-capacity data delivery requirements, from intelligence dissemination to quality-of-life programming. Broadcast management centers package, schedule and deliver the broadcast product. They also respond to user requests from the field. Typical information products include video, mapping, charting and geodesy, imagery, weather and data.

The GBS payload employs four 130-watt, 24 megabits-per-second military Ka-band transponders operating at 30/20 GHz. The information can be received by small, mobile tactical terminals. UHF F-8, F-9, and F-10 carry the GBS package in addition to the existing UHF and EHF payloads.

The UHF Follow-On satellites have replaced the aging and retired Fleet Satellite Communications (FLTSATCOM) and Hughes-built Leasat spacecraft, supporting the Navy’s global communications network serving ships at sea and a variety of other U.S. military fixed and mobile terminals.

Hughes won the initial UHF Follow-On contract in July 1988 for one satellite, with options for nine more, all of which had been exercised by January 1994. An EHF payload was added starting with the 4th satellite. In March 1996, the Navy ordered the special GBS payloads for F-8, F-9 and F-10, bringing the total contract value to $1.85 billion, including launch services. The first GBS payload was delivered in orbit only two years after contract signing, making the program a model for streamlined military acquisition procedures.

Along with building the Navy’s UHF satellites, HSC is also under contract to the Air Force for an engineering model for the next generation of EHF military communications satellites. Other government programs include the next-generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites and NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellites, which like the UHF F/O satellites are based on Hughes’ commercial HS 601 satellite design.

Information courtesy Hughes Space & Communications Public Relations Office.