Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station, Kojarena


Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station, Kojarena, Google Earth, 24 January 2012

Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station, Kojarena, Google Earth, 24 January 2012

Location: 28°41′42″S, 114°50′32″E (-28.695, 114.842222)


<iframe src=”” width=”365.18181824684143″ height=”366.18181824684143″ frameborder=”0″>

The Australian Defence Satellite Communications Ground Station is located at Kojarena, 30 km east of Geraldton in Western Australia. It is operated by the ADF Australian Signals Division [ASD]. As of November 2005, the base was staffed by 79 personnel. In late 2013 it housed 16 satellite antennas, including five with protective radomes.

The Kojarena station is a major Australian DSD signals interception facility, and is part of a worldwide system of satellite communications keyword monitoring known as Echelon operating within the wider UKUSA signals intelligence system.

Under an agreement initiated in 2007, Geraldton figures in the US-Australia partnership in the Wideband Global SATCOM system, which provides Australian access to the principally US-funded constellation of at least seven (and possibly nine) high capacity global war-fighting communications satellites. Under the agreement, Australia funded the sixth satellite, due to be launched in 2012-13. The first three satellites were launched between 207-2010, and Australia gained operational access by June 2010. These Boeing-built satellites, weighing almost 6 tonnes, are currently in geo-stationary orbit above the Pacific, Indian and eastern Atlantic oceans, and operate in the X-band (7.0 to 11.2 GHz) and Ka-band (26.5–40 GHz) frequency spectrum.

The government has also purchased 15 year access to a payload on a Intelsat commercial satellite (IS 22) to be positioned in 2012 in geo-stationary orbit at longitude 72º East over the Indian Ocean. The $894 mn. Next Generation Satellite Communications System and the $444 mn Ultra High Frequency Satellite Communications project involving Boeing and Intelsat respectively, under the supervision of the Satellites Space Systems Program Office (Space SPO). As with the Wideband Global SATCOM system the UHF satellite communciation project complements, an MOU with the United States will result in both countries sharing access to each other’s UHF capacities. When the IS 22 is operational, the Australian payload will provide the US and Australia with additional communications capacity for Afghanistan operations. In return Australia gains access to the United States’ Pacific UHF resources.

As part of the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Capability (ADSCC) Ground Segment the government announced in 2008 its intention to build a new Satellite Ground Station at the West Australian facility (SGS-W), (to be partnered by an expanded SGS at HMAS Harman, Canberra, as SGS-East) which would have “two X-band Earth Terminals (ETs), a single Ka-band ET and an optional Ku-band”. In August 2011, the government announced “first-pass” approval for the construction both transportable land- and sea-based communciations terminals, a satellite communications management system, and planning for both the upgrading of Kojarena and the establishment of an east coast facility. A 2010 answer to a question in parliament indicated that the government distinguished between a current “interim ground station west capability” and “a long term ground station capability on the Australian west coast.”

In November 2007 the Australian government announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States government for the building of an additional but separate facility within the grounds of the ADSCGS. This consists of three small buildings, three 19-metre antennas, and two smaller antennas making up a joint US-Australian ground station for the US Department of Defense Mobile User Objective System, a narrow-band networked satellite constellation for Ultra-High-Frequency satellite communications enabling secure all-weather and all-terrain 3-G mobile telecommunications.

The Kojarena MUOS facility is one of four MUOS ground stations, with the others being located at Niscemi, Sicily (Naval Air Station Sigonella), Virginia (Northwest location) and Wahiawa, Hawaii (Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific [NCTAMSPAC]).

MUOS antennas, Kojarena Source:

MUOS 19 m. antennas, Kojarena

MUOS ground station in Wahiawa, Hawaii,  Source: Mobile User Objective System, Wikipedia, at

MUOS ground station in Wahiawa, Hawaii,
Source: Mobile User Objective System, Wikipedia, at


Government sources

Australian government

Enhanced Military Satellite Capability (Joint Project 2008 Phase 5B), Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Materiel – Defence capability projects approved, 30 August 2011.

The Government agreed to first pass approval for Joint Project 2008 Phase 5B – Enhanced Military Satellite Capability. This project will deliver a comprehensive wideband satellite communications capability for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and will take advantage of Australia’s investment in the US Wideband Global Satellite Communications system. Phase 5B will include the delivery of transportable land terminals to equip ADF elements, upgrades for the satellite communications fit on Royal Australian Navy platforms and the establishment of a satellite communications network management system. Funding of $12 million has been approved for first pass to second pass work.  This work includes project development and risk mitigation studies including in relation to the potential upgrade of the Geraldton ground station and a new ground station facility in Eastern Australia. The total cost of Joint Project 2008 Phase 5B is cost capped between $300 million and $500 million in the Public Defence Capability Plan.

Next Generation Satellite Communications System — JP 2008 Phase 4, Electronic Systems, Agency Resources and Planned Performance, Defence Materiel Organisation

Prime Contractor: Boeing via the US Government.

This phase of the project seeks to deliver high-priority components of the next generation satellite communication system supporting the ADF from 2008. The project will address the ADF’s wideband satellite communications requirements by partnering on the US Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) communication system program.

Interim anchoring provides early access to the first block of WGS through a mix of offshore anchoring using US facilities with backhaul to Australia and small capacity in-country anchoring for direct access to WGS satellites viewable from within Australia. The early realisation of space segment capability drives the ability to anchor the satellites and interface into the ADF networks. The FOC of the in-country anchoring capability will occur in late 2010.

The first satellite (WGS1), with a footprint over the Pacific Ocean, has been providing operational capability to Australia since June 2008. The second satellite (WGS2), with a footprint over the Indian Ocean, became operational in August 2009 and is being utilised by the ADF. WGS3, which is not viewable from Australia, was launched in December 2009 and following operational testing was accepted into service in April 2010.

The project is currently participating in the design and delivery of a satellite remote control capability in Australia which is critical to the placement of a satellite. The US remains on track for production of satellites four through six, which will occur in parallel during the coming financial years.

Ultra High Frequency Satellite Communications — JP 2008 Phase 5A, Electronic Systems, Agency Resources and Planned Performance, Defence Materiel Organisation

Prime Contractor: Intelsat LLC.

This phase of the project seeks to deliver an enhanced Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite communications capability over the Indian Ocean region. Intelsat LLC has been contracted to include a hosted UHF payload, owned by Defence, on the IS-22 commercial satellite that Intelsat plans to launch to provide commercial pay-TV and data services. IS-22 is scheduled to commence in-orbit operations in mid-2012.

The project will also upgrade the Australian network control system to handle the additional capacity provided by the payload. Intelsat will support the capability for 15 years following in-orbit acceptance by Defence.

The satellite is planned to be operational in mid-2012 and will work with existing ADF UHF terminals. The contract has been signed with Intelsat and includes the delivery of the payload and 15 years of support. An upgrade is planned to ground infrastructure to support the increased capacity provided by the payload beyond that currently available to the ADF.

The key activity during 2010-11 will be the completion of the design of the satellite and hosted payload culminating in the critical design review. The contractor will then commence production and integration of the satellite.

Ultra High Frequency Satellite Communications – JP 2008 Phase 5A, Projects, Defence Materiel Organisation, May 2011

Prime Contractor: Intelsat LLC.

This phase of the project seeks to deliver an enhanced Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite communications capability over the Indian Ocean region. Intelsat LLC has been contracted to include a hosted UHF payload, owned by Defence, on the IS-22 commercial satellite. The IS-22 satellite will be launched in mid-2012, providing commercial pay-TV and UHF data services.

The project will also upgrade the Australian network control system to handle the additional capacity provided by the payload available to the ADF. Intelsat LLC will support the capability for 15 years following in-orbit acceptance by Defence.

The key activity during 2011-12 will be the completion of the satellite and hosted payload, culminating in launch and In Orbit Testing by mid 2012. This outcome will provide the majority of the capability to be delivered by the project.

Next Generation Satellite Communications System – 
JP 2008 Phase 4, Projects, Defence Materiel Organisation, May 2011

Prime Contractor: Boeing through a FMS case with the US Government.

During 2011-12 the Evolution 2 business case will be progressed for consideration by Government planned for the third quarter of 2011. Evolution 2 will add additional capability elements of a HQ Joint Operations Command Preparedness Management Information System, improvements to Situational Awareness, further enhancements to the JPS and provision of a Special Operations Combat Net Radio Interface.

The project is currently participating in the design and delivery of a satellite remote control capability in Australia, which is critical to the placement of a satellite. The US remains on track for production of satellites four through six during the coming financial years and, given the project’s positive track record, the likelihood of successful launches is good.

During 2011-12 the key major activities planned include:

  • establishment of the WGS control system in Australia
  • completion of the detailed design for the WGS 6 launch rocket
  • transition of WGS 4 into operational service
  • transition of the Western and Eastern interim anchoring stations into operational service.

SGS RFT Overview, Request for Tender 20070223AGSRFT, JP2008 Phase 3F – ADF Satcom Capability Terrestrial Upgrade, Projects, Defence Materiel Organisation, 5 November 2008

The Department of Defence through the Defence Materiel Organisation is seeking to procure an additional Satellite Ground Station near Geraldton, Western Australia (SGS-W), as part of an overarching contract for the support of the entire Australian Defence Satellite Communications Capability (ADSCC) Ground Segment. This Request for Tender will cover the provision, commission, and support of the expanded ADSCC Ground Segment through its Life of Type, and as a consequence will:

•    deliver a new Satellite Ground Station near Geraldton in Western Australia (SGS-W), fitted with two X-band Earth Terminals (ETs), a single Ka-band ET and an optional Ku-band ET;

•    upgrade elements within the Satellite Ground Station located at HMAS HARMAN (SGS-E) to meet the performance potential of the new SGS-W;

•    upgrade the Ground Segment Operations Centre (GSOC) and Backup GSOC (BGSOC) (formerly DPOCC/BDPOCC) to support the integration of the SGS-W into the ADSCC Ground Segment; and

•    deliver a performance-based, through-life support arrangement for the ADSCC Ground Segment, which includes SGS-W as a fully integrated sub-segment.

Australia and United States Defence Satellite Communications Cooperation at Geraldton, Department of Defence, 2008-07-21

Construction activity is expected to commence on a joint Australian and United States defence satellite communications ground station at the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS) Geraldton in 2008. The station will support the US Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), which is a satellite-based mobile phone network designed to support US, Australian and allied military users.

Doorstop, Sydney, Brendan Nelson, Minister for Defence, 3 October 2007

Australia will be going into a $927 million satellite wideband global system with the United States. We have made the decision that in terms of capability, coverage, flexibility and value for money, that for the next 16 years or more the Defence Force’s best prospects are to go with the US.

This will give us coverage right throughout the world. It will enable our Australian Defence Force to grow, it will also connect not only our ships, aircraft and land-based forces but give our deployed men and women increased capability to communicate with their loved ones back in Australia.

The first satellite we expect to be launched this month and Australia will be buying into the sixth satellite that will be made by Boeing. Once this has gone through the US Congress I will be signing a memorandum of understanding with the United States and the Government is extremely confident that this will provide Australian defence men and women with the bandwidth that we require. It will also give us the beams and power which is necessary for our deployed platforms and our deployed troops.

This is very important because Australia is going into a constellation of six satellites with the United States and what that means is that if there is a failure of one satellite Australia will then be able to use about 10 per cent of the capacity that we’re buying into across the other five satellites.

If we were, on the other hand, to acquire a single satellite through a commercial operation, well, then we would be facing failure if there was some failure of that single satellite. By going into a constellation of six satellites it means that in the unlikely event that there were satellite failure, Australia would still have more  than the coverage that it needs for its defence forces in wideband global systems.

Essentially we get the security of working with the United States, we get the confidence of the US military experience with satellites and we also know that if we do have failure of one of the six satellites that we will continue to be covered through the other five. This is a win-win for Australia, it’s a win-win for the Australia-US alliance and it also means that our capability, flexibility and security is greatly enhanced for the next decade and beyond.

Very shortly I will be signing the contract for the three air warfare destroyers that we’re building in Adelaide, South Australia. We’ll shortly sign the contracts for two 27,000 ton amphibious ships, larger than the last aircraft carrier that we had.

What it will enable us to do is to connect those ships to our Super Hornets, our Joint Strike Fighters, our Abrams tanks and our military operations in land, across the region and across the world.

What it means is that we’ll have no problems with connectivity, we’ll be able to conduct as many operations as we need to do in different parts of the world simultaneously, and ensure good free secure communications between our military platforms, their commanders and also Aussie diggers back to their families in Australia.

MOU Signed For Australia-US Joint Military Communications Ground Station, Department of Defence, Media Release, 8 November 2007.

The Australian Department of Defence and the US Navy have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which sets out the governing arrangements for a joint military communications ground station near Geraldton, Western Australia. The joint ground station will support the US Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), which is a satellite-based mobile phone network designed to support US and Australian military users, including deployed forces. Works are expected to commence in early 2008 and the joint ground station is scheduled to become operational in March 2010.

Australia-US Joint Communications Facility To Be Hosted At Geraldton, Brendan Nelson, Minister for Defence, Media Release, 15 February 2007.

“The Government has agreed to host a ground station for a US strategic and military satellite communications system at the Australian Defence Satellite Communication Station (ADSCS) located at Geraldton in Western Australia.  The new ground station will be sited within the grounds of ADSCS but will be unrelated to the existing activities of ADSCS which will remain under separate Australian control.

“The ground station will form part of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). MUOS, in simple terms, will be a satellite-based mobile phone network. MUOS will support US and Australian users, including deployed forces. The ground station at Geraldton will comprise three small buildings housing the electronic infrastructure, power and spares, three 18 metre satellite dishes and two smaller antenna covering an area of approximately 12,000 square metres or less than the size of two and a half rugby fields. Once complete, it will be unmanned requiring only call-out contractor maintenance support.”

Parliamentary questions and debates

Question No. 110, Questions on Notice – Defence Capabiity Plan, 22 November 2010

Senator Johnston asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence upon notice, on 28 September 2010:

Given that video communications are integrated into robots, soldiers and unmanned aerial vehicles, network centric warfare is becoming the organising principle of war fighting, and frontline demands for bandwidth are rising at a rapid rate, for the period 1 January to 30 Jun 2010, what did the Australian Defence Force do and how much did it spend on:

(a)   establishing a network centric warfare capability; and

(b)   addressing the issue of increased bandwidth.

Senator Chris Evans (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations) The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

b)   The requirement to meet frontline demands for increased bandwidth is being addressed through various projects to acquire satellite capabilities and enhanced tactical networks, including data link communications for Australian Defence Force elements and weapon systems. On the specific matter of increasing satellite bandwidth, Defence was engaged in the following activities from 1 January to 30 June 2010:

(i)   Defence successfully certified the interim ground station west capability on the Australian west coast to provide access to the Wideband Global SATCOM system.

(ii)   Defence continued milestone payments for the sixth Wideband Global SATCOM satellite.

(iii)   Defence continues the development of a long term ground station capability on the Australian west coast.

(iv)   Defence completed the wideband SATCOM terminals in Major Fleet Units in 2009 and has continued to develop the ashore support infrastructure and land based variants.

(v)   Defence continued the acquisition of an Ultra High Frequency payload on an IS-22 commercial satellite over the Indian Ocean Region, which will become operational in 2012.

(vi)   Defence has signed a Memorandum of Understanding which allows for the sharing of Ultra High Frequency SATCOM capacity with the United States.

(vii)   Defence updated its leasing costs with INMARSAT in Feb 2010 with an annual increase in costs of $0.14 million.

(viii)   The total cost of increasing satellite bandwidth within the period was $107.5 million.

(ix)   Consumer Price Index increases in ongoing Defence spectrum license costs plus new apparatus spectrum licenses amount to an increase of $0.22 million.

Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station, (Question No. 2326), Questions in Writing, House of Representatives, Parliament of Australia, 5 November 2005.

Mr Melham (Banks) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, in writing, on 7 September 2005:

(1) How many personnel currently work at the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS) in Geraldton, Western Australia.

(2) How many ADSCS personnel are (a) Australian Department of Defence personnel, (b) Australian Defence Force personnel, (c) employees of Australian contractors, and (d) any other personnel.

(3) Which private contractors provide personnel or deliver services at the ADSCS.

(4) What was the cost to the Government of running the ADSCS for each financial year since 1996-1997.

(5) Since March 1996, have any Federal and State Members of Parliament (a) visited the ADSCS and (b) received classified briefings on the functions of the station; if so, which Members and when did the visits and briefings take place.

(6) How many radomes and satellite antenna are located at the ADSCS.

(7) What functions are performed by the ADSCS.

Answer: Mrs De-Anne Kelly (Dawson—Minister for Veterans’ Affairs)—The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

(1) 79.

(2) Detailed staffing information regarding the operation of ADSCS is classified. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on ASIO, ASIS, and DSD conducts a review of the annual financial and administrative aspects of DSD’s operations. This review includes details of the staff and budget for ADSCS.

(3) L3comm (ESSCO) is contracted to provide antenna radome maintenance. Boeing Australia is also contracted to provide services at ADSCS, some of which are fulfilled by the following private sub-contractors:

Raytheon Australia Pty Ltd; Barclay’s Pest Control; Delron Cleaning; Geraldton Electrical Company; Lincolne Scott Australia Pty Ltd; National Oils; Collex Waste Removals; Midwest Business Services; Geraldton Extinguisher Services; Drager Australia; Western Power Fleet Services; and Testing and Commissioning Services.

(4) Detailed financial information regarding the operation of ADSCS is classified.

(5) The following Federal and State Members of Parliament visited ADSCS since 1996 and received briefings as indicated:

(a) 26 March 1996: The Hon Ian McLachlan AO MP, Minister for Defence, received a classified briefing.

(b) 18 November 1998: The Hon John Moore MP, Minister for Defence, received a classified briefing.

(c) 10 September 2002: Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade: The Hon David Jull MP, the Hon Kim Beazley MP, the Hon Leo McLeay MP, Senator Sandy McDonald, received a classified briefing.

(d) 5 October 2002: Senator the Hon Robert Hill, Minister for Defence, received a classified briefing.

(e) 13 July 2003: The Hon Danna Vale MP, Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, the Hon Wilson Tuckey MP, Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, received a classified briefing.

(f) 11 June 2004: Senator the Hon Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice, received a classified briefing.

(6) 5 radomes and 8 satellite antennas.

(7) The station is managed by the DSD and is operated in cooperation with other parts of the Department of Defence. The operational details of the facility are classified.

Kojarena Satellite Ground Station – Expanded Function: Motion, Hon. Giz Watson, (North Metropolitan), Hansard, Parliament of Western Australia, 19 September 2007.

US government

Wideband Global SATCOM Satellite, US Air Force, Space Command

Analysis and commentary

Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station, Geraldton

Desmond Ball, Australia’s Secret Space Programs, Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No 43, 1988, chapter 4.

Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station, Geraldton, Western Australia, Wikipedia

Australia hosts new US spy facility, Dan Nolan, Al Jazeera, 2007-05-11

Wideband Global SATCOM system

Wideband Global SATCOM system, Wikipedia

Key Facts, Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) Satellite, USA, Aerospace

High-capacity military communications satellite
Cross-band (X-band, global broadcast, 2-way Ka) payload
R-4D, 4 XIPS-25 Ion engines
Life Span of Satellite
14 years
Satellite Bus
Boeing 702
Orbit Altitude
22,300 miles
8 beam, transmit and receive X-band phased arrays and 10 Ka-band gimballed dish antennas, 1 X-band Earth coverage
39 125-MHz Channels via digital channeliser / router
Launch Vehicle
Delta IV and Atlas V EELV (evolved expendable launch vehicles)
Unit Cost
Approximately $300m
SGLS, USB, and in-band (X, Ka) control
Number of terminals
Two (Ka-band and X-band)


Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) Satellite, USA, Aerospace

The WGS system enhances the DoD’s communication services currently provided by the defence satellite communications system (DSCS) satellites and the global broadcast system (GBS) operating at ultra high frequency (UHF). The system provides two-way X-band and Ka-band communications, as well as Ka-band broadcast services 24 hours to US armed forces and other allied forces worldwide. The X-band satellites transfer data, photos and videos to troops on the battlefield.

The WGS satellite communication system has six satellites divided into two blocks. Block I contains WGS-1, WGS-2 and WGS-3 satellites, while block II satellites include WGS-4, WGS-5 and WGS-6. The block II satellites WGS-4, WGS-5 and WGS-6 are expected to be launched in 2011, 2012 and 2013. They are being developed to meet the bandwidth requirements of warfighters thereby providing information exchange; enabling execution of tactical command and control, communications, and computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR); battle management and combat support information.The terminal segment refers to the users of the communication services provided by the WGS system. The users of the WGS system include the Australian Defence Force and the US Army ground mobile terminals, US Navy ships and submarines, national command authorities for the nuclear forces, and various national security / allied national forces.

The satellite operators come under the control segment. The 3rd Space Operations Squadron (SOPS) located at Schriever AFB, Colorado, manages bus commanding of the DSCS constellation. Payload commanding and network control are managed by the army’s 53rd Signal Battalion at Peterson AFB, Colorado, with subordinate elements at seven locations. WGS-2 is operated by 3rd SOPS at 50th Space Wing, Schriever AFB, under the operational command of JFCC SPACE at Vandenberg.


WGS system provides 4.875GHz instantaneous switchable bandwidth. Around 500MHz of X-band and 1GHz Ka-band spectrum is allocated to WGS. Based on the mix of ground terminals, data rates and modulation schemes employed, each satellite of WGS system provides 2.1Gbps to 3.6Gbps of data transmission rates. Each WGS system has the capacity to supply ten times faster data transmission rates compared to DSCS service life enhancement programme (SLEP) satellite.


The breakage of uplink bandwidth into approximately 1,900 independently routable 2.6MHz subchannels by digital channeliser has increased the connectivity between uplink and downlink coverage area. The X and Ka bands are interconnected through digital channeliser and provide better connectivity in WGS. The digital channeliser also offers multicast and broadcast services to support the network protocol.

The Wideband Global SATCOM Program, Defense Industry Daily, 1 September 2011 [updated frequently]

It excels in 3 areas: bandwidth, coverage, and flexibility.

Each WGS satellite can route 2.1 to 3.6 Gbps of data, depending on the the exact equipment and network settings – more than 10 times the communications capacity of the predecessor DSCS III satellite’s 0.25 Gbps. Indeed, One WGS satellite will provide more throughput than the entire Defense Service Communications Satellite (DSCS) constellation currently on station.

Using reconfigurable antennas and a digital channelizer, WGS also offers added flexibility to tailor its coverage areas, and to connect X-band and Ka-band users anywhere within the satellite’s field of view. The WGS design includes 19 independent coverage areas that can be positioned throughout the field of view of each satellite. This includes 8 steerable and shapeable X-band beams formed by separate transmit and receive phased arrays; 10 Ka-band beams served by independently steerable, diplexed antennas, including 3 with selectable RF polarization; and transmit/receive X-band Earth coverage beams. Within those limits, WGS’ digital channelizer divides the uplink bandwidth into nearly 1,900 independently routable 2.6 MHz subchannels, providing connectivity from any uplink coverage area to any downlink coverage area (including the X and Ka band crossbanding). The channelizer supports multicast and broadcast services, and provides uplink spectrum monitoring to support network control. Boeing adds that:

“Despite all of its military features, WGS is substantially more cost-effective than leased commercial SATCOM bandwidth.”

It is also more flexible. Unlike commercial service, WGS satellites can be repositioned in orbit to adapt to changing mission requirements.

WGS-4 and the Block II set will be similar to the 3 Block I satellites, but will include a radio frequency bypass capability designed to support airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms requiring additional bandwidth. The RF bypass will support data rates of up to 311 megabits per second, allowing platforms like the US Navy’s RQ-4N BAMS UAVs to rely on the WGS constellation for satellite control.

Delta 4 assigned to deliver military satellite into orbit, Justin Ray, Space Flight Now, 4 January 2010

Liftoff of the WGS 4 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral is targeted to occur between December 2011 and February 2012. The WGS satellites supply communications such as maps and data to soldiers on the battlefield, relay video from unmanned aerial reconnaissance drones, route voice calls and data messaging, and even offer quality-of-life considerations like television broadcasts and email delivery to the troops. The first two spacecraft in the series were launched by ULA’s Atlas 5 rockets in October 2007 and April 2009. WGS 1 covers the vast Pacific Command that stretches from the U.S. western coast all the way to Southeast Asia; WGS 2 was placed into operation over the Indian Ocean for use by U.S. Central Command to provide coverage for the warfighters in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of Southwest Asia. The new WGS 3 satellite launched on December 5 is undergoing orbital maneuvers and testing. It will be positioned above the Eastern Atlantic with a broad reach to cover U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, plus lend additional support over the Middle East.

Intelsat 22 UHF satellite

Intelsat 22, Wikipedia

Intelsat 22 will have a three distinct communications payloads. A 48 channel C-band payload with 36 MHz channels, a 24 channel Ku-band payload with 36 MHz channels, and a 18 channel UHF payload with 25 kHz channels.

The UHF payload consists of 18 operational 25 kHz channels which is being added to the Intelsat 22 satellite as a result of the contract with ADF.

Enhanced communications for deployed forces, Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, 5 May 2010

The Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner, announced on April 28 that the Government has approved a significant initiative to enhance communications support to the Australian Defence Force, including in the Middle East Area of Operations. Under Defence Capability Plan Joint Project 2008 Phase 5A, Defence is already in the process of acquiring part of the Intelsat IS-22 UHF payload providing coverage over the Indian Ocean Region. A contract for the provision of this payload was signed with Intelsat in April 2009. The announcement involves approval to exercise the Government’s option to purchase the full ultra-high frequency (UHF) payload on the Intelsat IS-22 communications satellite at an additional cost of around $193 million. This brings the total IS-22 payload purchase cost to $475.1 million. “Purchasing the full satellite payload will improve operational effectiveness and enhance the communications support to Australia’s deployed forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan,” Senator Faulkner said.

Coinciding with the visit by the United States Department of Defense Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Cartwright, Senator Faulkner also announced that Australia and the United States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on sharing their narrowband UHF communications resources. “This initiative will provide the United States added communications capacity for its operations in Afghanistan by utilising the Australian payload on the IS-22 communications satellite. In turn the Australian Defence Force will gain access to communications capacity over the Pacific Ocean region from United States’ satellite resources,” Senator Faulkner said. The UHF Communications MOU complements the Wideband Global System satellite partnership between Australia and the United States. The arrangement will result in significant savings for both nations, provide a more robust communications capability for the warfighter and add another dimension to the Australian-US Alliance.


Australian Defence Force to get dedicated UHF payload on Intelsat 22 satellite, Stuart Corner,iTWire, 27 April 2009

Intelsat will arrange for the construction and integration of the UHF payload with its Intelsat 22 satellite, due for launch in 2012 and is expected to operate the ADF payload and provide related services for 15 years following the launch. Intelsat 22 will be built by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems and will have 48 C-band and 24 Ku-band 36 MHz equivalent transponders, plus a UHF payload with eighteen 25-kHz channels. According to Intelsat The UHF band is widely deployed for military satellite communications because of its adaptability to small, mobile terminals used by ground, sea and air forces. The ADF is purchasing part of the UHF payload and has an option to purchase the remainder. It will be compliant with US Department of Defense Mil-Std-188-181 and Volna Treaty (Russian) requirements for interoperability. Intelsat 22 will be positioned at 72º East longitude, over the Indian Ocean region, providing a footprint that Intelsat say is well suited to the communications needs of the Australian military.

Echelon and Kojarena

Nicky Hager, Secret Power:  New Zealand’s Role in the International Spy Network, Craig Potton, Nelson, New Zealand, 1996, chapter 2.

Careful, they might hear you, Duncan Campbell, The Age, 23 May 23 1999.

“Australia has become the first country openly to admit that it takes part in a global electronic surveillance system that intercepts the private and commercial international communications of citizens and companies from its own and other countries. The disclosure is made today in Channel 9’s Sunday program by Martin Brady, director of the Defence Signals Directorate in Canberra. Mr Brady’s decision to break ranks and officially admit the existence of a hitherto unacknowledged spying organisation called UKUSA is likely to irritate his British and American counterparts, who have spent the past 50 years trying to prevent their own citizens from learning anything about them or their business of ‘signals intelligence’ – ‘sigint’ for short.

In his letter to Channel 9 published today, Mr Brady states that the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) ‘does cooperate with counterpart signals intelligence organisations overseas under the UKUSA relationship’. Together with the giant American National Security Agency (NSA) and its Canadian, British, and New Zealand counterparts, DSD operates a network of giant, highly automated tracking stations that illicitly pick up commercial satellite communications and examine every fax, telex, e-mail, phone call, or computer data message that the satellites carry.

The five signals intelligence agencies form the UKUSA pact. They are bound together by a secret agreement signed in 1947 or 1948. Although its precise terms have never been revealed, the UKUSA agreement provides for sharing facilities, staff, methods, tasks and product between the participating governments.

Now, due to a fast-growing UKUSA system called Echelon, millions of messages are automatically intercepted every hour, and checked according to criteria supplied by intelligence agencies and governments in all five UKUSA countries. The intercepted signals are passed through a computer system called the Dictionary, which checks each new message or call against thousands of ‘collection’ requirements. The Dictionaries then send the messages into the spy agencies’ equivalent of the Internet, making them accessible all over the world.

Australia’s main contribution to this system is an ultra-modern intelligence base at Kojarena, near Geraldton in Western Australia. The station was built in the early 1990s. At Kojarena, four satellite tracking dishes intercept Indian and Pacific Ocean communications satellites. The exact target of each dish is concealed by placing them inside golfball like ‘radomes’.”

“About 80 per cent of the messages intercepted at Kojarena are sent automatically from its Dictionary computer to the CIA or the NSA, without ever being seen or read in Australia. Although it is under Australian command, the station – like its controversial counterpart at Pine Gap – employs American and British staff in key posts.”

“Among the ‘collection requirements’ that the Kojarena Dictionary is told to look for are North Korean economic, diplomatic and military messages and data, Japanese trade ministry plans, and Pakistani developments in nuclear weapons technology and testing. In return, Australia can ask for information collected at other Echelon stations to be sent to Canberra.”

Inside Echelon, Duncan Campbell, Telepolis, 25 July 2000.

Interception Capabilities 2000, Duncan Campbell, Report to the Director General for Research of the European Parliament (Scientific and Technical Options Assessment programme office) on the development of surveillance technology and risk of abuse of economic information, April 1999.

Desperately Seeking Signals, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March-April 2000.

“The Echelon system that [Nicky] Hager describes links together computers, known as ‘dictionaries’ at UKUSA ground stations. hose computers contain, for each of the cooperating agencies, a list of keywords whose appearance in any intercepted message makes the message an item of interest to the agency.”

“Before Echelon appeared in the 1970s, the agencies shared intelligence, but they usually processed and analyzed the intercepted communications. As a result, most exchanges involved finished reports rather than raw intercepts. Echelon on the other hand is an integrated network that allows the agencies to specify which intercepts are of interest and to receive them automatically via computer.”

“Australia operates a more extensive intercept facility at Geraldton in Western Australia. When Geraldton opened in 1993 it had four intercept dishes targeted on INTELSATs orbiting above the Indian Ocean and [the] Pacific. Among the keywords in the Geraldton dictionary are ones relating to North Korea’s economic, diplomatic and military situation, Japanese trade ministry plans, and developments in Pakistani nuclear weapons technology.”

Mobile User Objective System (MUOS)

Mobile User Objective System satellite

Source: Lockheed Martin.

MUOS satellite and ground station schematic

MUOS system schematic

 Source: Mobile User Objective System (MUOS),
Bryan Scurry, PEO Systems, 29 June 2005.

Special Report: The USA’s Transformational Communications Satellite System (TSAT), Defense Industry Daily, 11 October 2007.

“As video communications is integrated into robots, soldiers, and UAVs, and network-centric warfare becomes the organizing principle of American warfighting, front-line demands for bandwidth are rising sharply. The Transformation Communications Satellite (TSAT) System is part of a larger effort by the US military to address this need.

“Yet its survival is not assured by any means. Outside events and incremental competitors could spell its end just as they spelled the end of Motorola’s infamous Iridium service. This updated DID Special Report looks at the TSAT program, its challenges, and the potential future(s) of U.S. military communications.”

“The TSAT Program is actually just one node in a broad spectrum of programs known as the Transformational Communications Architecture (TCA), version 1.0 of which was approved by a Joint Requirements Oversight Council Memorandum (JROCM) on October 23, 2003.”

“Communications satellites come in three flavors: narrowband systems like IRIDIUM that suffice for voice transmissions but lack bandwidth, wideband systems for sending large amounts of data, and protected satellites that are ‘protected’ against jamming and nuclear effects. TCA v1.0 makes use of all three.

“The TCA envisions a Global Information Grid (GIG) that includes the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) for unprotected wideband, the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS or next generation narrowband) scheduled for launch in 2009, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF next generation protected, a.k.a. Milstar III) to be launched between 2008-2011, an Advanced Polar System for various strategic missions, and the Transformational Communications Satellite (TSAT) system that could be launched from 2013 as a major upgrade, instead of deploying AEHF #4 & 5.”
DOD narrowband UHF systems

Source: Mobile User Objective System (MUOS),
Bryan Scurry, PEO Systems, 29 June 2005.

Military Explores Third-Generation Cellular, Adam Baddeley, Military Information Technology, Vol 9, Issue 1, 18 February 2005.

“Keen to reduce the cost of custom development on military programs, the Department of Defense is now including 3G cellular technologies in programs that will shortly reach frontline troops. These programs include such systems as the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) and the Warfighter Information Network Tactical (WIN-T), which are central to the vision for communications transformation. The adoption of 3G technologies will enable DoD to draw on a well of COTS expertise designed to provide enormous information throughput. This can be used to provide dismounted soldiers in the field, on exercise, overseas and even at home, with the requisite communications capability. With its considerable “beachhead” in several key building blocks of the Global Information Grid, 3G’s importance in DoD communications is expected to grow rapidly.

“MUOS, for example, is one of the key MILSATCOM programs being pursued by DoD today, and at its heart is a 3G cellular waveform. Together with Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) in the secure protected EHF domain, and the Wideband Gapfiller Systems constellations delivering X- and Ka-band MILSATCOM, MUOS will provide a triad of capabilities by the end of this decade.

“Throughput of the new system will be considerable. In the UHF narrowband domain, satellite capacity and channel data rate will grow from 400 Kbps and 19.4 kbps, respectively, in today’s UHF Follow On (UFO) constellation, to 4000 kbps and 64 Kbps in the MUOS solution, according to retired Air Force Major General Robert Dickman, deputy for military space in the Office of the Undersecretary of the Air Force. Put another way, while one UFO satellite can provide 106 simultaneous accesses at 2.4 Kbps, a MUOS satellite will provide 7,100 simultaneous accesses at the same rate. The MUOS satellite also includes a new UFO payload, and so will increase the UFO constellation capacity at first launch. MUOS will deliver video, voice and data simultaneously.

“Lockheed Martin Space Systems was awarded the $2.1 billion contract to build the first two MUOS satellites last year, with options for up to three more satellites. Operational turnover of the first MUOS satellite is planned for 2010. The second MUOS satellite is planned for turnover in 2011, with full operational capability planned for 2014.”

MUOS overview

MUOS overview

Source: Mobile User Objective System (MUOS),
Bryan Scurry, PEO Systems, 29 June 2005.

MUOS: Milsatcom’s Cutting Edge, Ron Sherman, Defense Daily Network, 1 June 2005.

“Capt. David Porter, program manager for the Navy Satellite Communications Program Office, emphasizes the importance of the new satcom system’s improved capacity, terminal mobility and ease of use.This would involve a 10-fold increase in transmission throughput (volume of information), compared with the Navy’s current UHF Follow-on (UFO) satellite system. The MUOS constellation is expected to boost satellite capacity and data rates substantially. The MUOS system would provide the capacity of 39 Mbits/s, compared with the predecessor UFO capacity of 2.5 Mbits/s. To put it another way, a MUOS satellite would provide more than 7,000 simultaneous accesses (video, voice and data) at 2.4 Kbits/s, compared with 106 accesses for a UFO satellite at 2.4 Kbits/s. As the total simultaneous accesses are reduced, the channel rate goes up. MUOS satellites will be fully compatible with the UFO system and associated legacy terminals.”

“MUOS enables true ‘coms-on-the-move,’ according to Porter, adding that, should an unexpected event occur, warfighters would be able to easily report to or summon assistance from their chain of command without having to aim an antenna and expose themselves to hostile fire. Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) radios are expected to incorporate the MUOS waveform. The goal is to achieve handheld cell phone-like services via MUOS satellites that act like very tall cell towers. Porter says that, ‘strategically, MUOS will facilitate rapid response to any part of the globe.’ Ground troops, sailors and airmen would have ‘instantaneous access to prearranged tactical networks and worldwide communications, including the global information grid [GIG],’ he adds. According to Porter, ‘with JTRS terminals equipped with omnidirectional antennas, convoys of Humvees and tanks, soldiers fighting in urban areas, Air Force command and control aircraft supporting special ops, or Marines fighting in harsh climates will all be in constant communication within their chain of command.'”

“Sounds good, but today’s warfighters will have to wait a few years. The MUOS constellation of four geosynchronous satellites (and one spare) will not reach full operational capability until some time after 2014. In fact, the first satellite will not be launched from Cape Canaveral for at least four more years. The MUOS constellation is required to provide satellite communications for 10 years beyond full operational capability. Further, much work must be accomplished to modify the JTRS ground infrastructure to be compatible with MUOS.”

“Orbital operations–including launch and early operations, payload status and anomaly resolution–will be handled by the Naval Network and Space Operations Command and the Naval Satellite Operations Center, both at Point Magu, Calif., and the latter’s Detachment Delta at Schriever AFB, Colo. Satellite use operations–including provisioning, administration and help desk (the military equivalent to a customer service center)–will be the responsibility of the MUOS Global Satellite Support Center, co-located at the U.S. Strategic Command, and several regional support centers sited at various combatant commands. Navy facilities in Hawaii and Virginia will manage the network.”

“Harris’ satellite antennas, some more than 47 feet (14 m) in diameter, will enable the use of several spot beams to improve signal-to-noise levels and achieve up to 30-fold frequency reuse, something which is not possible in the UFO program. Comparable commercial systems now use L-band, 1.5-GHz downlinks.”

“The first MUOS launch is scheduled in late 2009, providing an on-orbit capability in March 2010. Subsequent launches are planned for October 2010, June 2011, June 2012 and June 2013, and full operational capability is expected no later than July 2014. The MUOS operational documents specify a system life span through 2024. MUOS satellites are to have a 10-year service life. The current UFO constellation has nine satellites plus one on-orbit spare that provides a mix of 38 communications channels and one fleet broadcast channel.

“‘The UHF spectrum has evolved into the military’s workhorse,’ says Porter. “There are more than 20,000 UHF terminals in use.’ However, the UFO system already is 250 percent oversubscribed. ‘Demand will only increase, as joint operations and network centric warfare evolve,’ Porter asserts.”

“Lockheed Martin’s Commercial Space Systems unit in Newton, Pa., is developing the MUOS satellites; final assembly and test will take place in Sunnyvale, Calif. Major subcontractors to Lockheed include:

  • General Dynamics C4 Systems, Scottsdale, Ariz., which will provide user entry and integrated ground segments of the MUOS; secure ground network, satellite control and network management; and a JTRS-compliant terminal (receiver).
  • Boeing Satellite Systems, El Segundo, Calif., which will provide the legacy UHF payload.
  • Ericsson, Plano, Texas, the leader in 3G mobile technology, which will provide vital segments of the MUOS ground system.
  • Harris Corp., Melbourne, Fla., which will provide the large reflectors for the MUOS. The reflectors, two per satellite, will be part of the satellite’s UHF-band antenna system.

Mobile User Objective System (MUOS),

Mobile User Objective System satellite and ground station schedule


Source: APPROPRIATION/BUDGET ACTIVITY, RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT TEST & EVALUATION, NAVY /R-1 ITEM, 0303109N Satellite Communications (Space), Defense Technical Information Service, February 2007.


Mobile User Objective System, Wikipedia

“The Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) is an Ultra High Frequency (UHF) (300 MHz to 3 GHz frequency range) satellite communications (SATCOM) system, primarily serving the Department of Defense (DoD). MUOS operates as a global cellular service provider to support the warfighter with modern cell phone-like capabilities, such as multimedia. MUOS converts a commercial third generation (3G) Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) cellular phone system to a military UHF SATCOM radio system using geosynchronous satellites in place of cell towers. The UHF frequency band, operates at a lower frequency band than conventional terrestrial cellular networks. However, the UHF band provides adequate transmit power to give the military the tactical capability to communicate in “disadvantaged” environments, such as a heavily forested regions, whose signal would be attenuated by the forest canopy using conventional frequencies. The MUOS constellation will consist of four operational with one on-orbit spare. MUOS will provide the military with precedence-based service and preemption access to voice, data, video, or a mixture of voice and data in both point-to-point and netted communication services spanning the globe. Connections may be set up on demand by users in the field, within seconds, and then released just as easily, freeing resources for other users. In alignment with more traditional military communications methods, pre-planned networks can also be established either permanently or per specific schedule using the MUOS’ ground-based Network Management Center.”

Mobile User Objective System, Lockheed Martin

“Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., is the prime contractor and systems integrator for the MUOS program.  On Sept. 24, 2004, the company was awarded a $2.1 billion contract to build the first two satellites and associated ground control elements for the MUOS system.  The contract also provides for options on three additional spacecraft.  With all options exercised, the contract for up to five satellites has a total potential value of $3.26 billion.”

Mobile User Objective System (MUOS),

Network Systems and Information Systems, C4 Systems, General Dynamics

Mobile User Objective System (MUOS),

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Updated: 6 October 2014