MUOS SATCOM System Completes Successful Demonstration in Canada

  • Published
  • By George Blackwood, International Agreements Lead, SSC Narrowband Acquisition Delta
The Canada Department of National Defense (DND), in conjunction with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Space Force, is the first partner nation to successfully access the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) Narrowband Global SATCOM System.

MUOS is the U.S. Department of Defense’s newer, more advanced UHF SATCOM system and is designed to provide joint warfighters with reliable, worldwide voice and data communications in challenging weather environments and through thick foliage. MUOS offers significant improvements over legacy systems, including a ten-fold increase in overall communications capacity, reduced signal interference and improved connectivity performance.
Canada DND used MUOS for voice and data transmission using AN/PRC-117G terminals from two different locations in Ottawa - Major EJG Holland VC Armoury and the Carling Campus.

Canada’s ability to close communication links on Canadian soil using Canadian-procured radio terminals through a Space Force UHF Narrowband military satellite system is a tremendous achievement, said Thomas Cesear, MUOS Integration Lab Lead.

Years of extensive planning, design modification and implementation went into getting the Tactical Narrowband SATCOM - Geosynchronous (TNS-GEO) project to the point of demonstration on Oct. 25, 2023. Not only did Canada demonstrate they could push to talk and connect from one Canadian radio terminal to another Canadian radio terminal - in other words, make a Point-to-Point (P2P) call - but they also were able to successfully accomplish other services like Point-to-Net (P2N) with chat, file transfer, email, as well as group calls. 

Taking the demonstration event one more step further, the U.S.-Canadian team completed a call from Ottawa, Canada to the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) laboratory in San Diego, California.

“We are very proud of this accomplishment,” said Scott Mackenzie, TNS-GEO project manager for the Canada DND, who observed the entire demonstration event. “It is a measure of the superb teamwork between the Canadian and United States teams. And it bodes well for a successful formal demonstration in March of next year.”

The two-day demonstration was more than four years in the making. In March of 2019, Canada, through the TNS-GEO Coverage Project, initiated a foreign military sales project with the U.S. to provide access to MUOS.

The Navy MUOS program office, formerly PMW 146, developed concept of operations, assisted in the design of local terminal provisioning tool, conducted ground-system feasibility and trade studies. The Implementation Phase, which was the second FMS case for the overall effort to provide Canada access to MUOS, began May 2022.  PMW 146 essentially laid the foundation for implementing the necessary changes to MUOS that ultimately allow Canada MUOS UHF SATCOM access.

In March 2023, the MUOS program, led by U.S. Navy Capt. Peter Sheehy, director of Narrowband SATCOM Acquisition Delta, was transferred from Navy to Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC), becoming Narrowband SATCOM Acquisition Delta, part of SSC’s Military Communications & Positioning, Navigation and Timing Program Executive Office. 

Denese Cordaro, SSC deputy director for Narrowband, praised the remarkable level of coordination involved in making this FMS project so successful to this point.

“I cannot say thank you enough to the Navy International Program Office (NIPO) for shepherding this FMS case all the way from its infancy stage to this exciting implementation phase,” Cordaro said.