Boeing [BA] said on Nov. 15 that its engineers recently tested a Protected Tactical Satellite Communications (SATCOM) Prototype (PTS-P) for the U.S. Space Force to prevent the jamming of DoD SATCOM, as Boeing’s competition with Northrop Grumman [NOC] on the PTS-P program continues.
“Maintaining communication with our deployed forces during hostility gives us a tactical edge on the battlefield,” Justin Bruner, PTS-P program manager at U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC), said in a Boeing statement on Nov. 15.
“Our adversaries are always attempting to deny our ability to communicate,” he said. “On-board, autonomous, real-time nulling of jammers greatly enhances our resiliency, ensuring the United States and our allies can provide our warfighters with secure, reliable communications in a contested environment. Boeing has made significant strides in the development and execution of a nulling algorithm with flight-like firmware, demonstrating agile anti-jam capability. PTS-P and all of our Protected Anti-Jam Tactical SATCOM [PATS] programs are critical to this effort.”
In March, Boeing said that SSC had validated the design maturity of the company’s
PTS-P satellite in a critical design review (CDR), which SSC said that it completed with Boeing last Dec. 17 (Defense Daily, March 16). SSC has said that the command and Northrop Grumman finished its PTS-P CDR last Oct. 7.
PTS-P is to provide “space-based processing of the Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW), the U.S. military’s jam-resistant waveform,” Boeing said on Nov. 15. “Boeing’s solution uses software-defined beam-shaping to geolocate and actively suppress jamming in real-time, with thousands of data points gathered every second.”
In 2020, the Department of the Air Force awarded Raytheon [RTN] and L3Harris [LHX] contracts to develop PTW-capable modems under a $500 million-ceiling, Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity contract.
The recent Boeing PTS-P hardware-software integration demonstration “featured a number of simulations where an adversary attempted to block a user’s communication, including situations with numerous simultaneous jamming attempts,” the company said. “In every simulation, the Boeing-built prototype autonomously mitigated highly-dynamic jamming attempts and preserved connectivity, including situations where the user was in close proximity to the interference source.”
In February and March of 2020, SSC’s predecessor–the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC)–awarded PTS-P contracts to Lockheed Martin [LMT], Northrop Grumman, and Boeing (Defense Daily, Feb. 26, 2021). On March 31 last year, SSC chose Northrop Grumman and Boeing to move forward in the PTS-P competition.
“Additional PTS-P hardware and software demonstrations are planned in the coming months, with host vehicle integration set to begin early next year,” Boeing said on Nov. 15.
PTS-P test launches are to begin in 2024.