Boeing’s ground system for U.S. satellite communications passes key test

WASHINGTON — Boeing completed a demonstration of a U.S. military ground system designed to protect satellite communications from jamming attacks, the company announced March 7.

In the demonstration of the Protected Tactical Enterprise Service (PTES), Boeing integrated anti-jam software and hardware with the existing military satcom architecture. 

The company developed the PTES under a $383 million U.S. Air Force contract awarded in 2018. 

Held at the Joint Satellite Engineering Center at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the recent demonstration “is a significant step forward,” said Charlotte Gerhart, Space Systems Command’s tactical satcom acquisition delta chief. 

“The ability to augment the current wideband constellation combined with the potential to introduce resilience will greatly enhance our ability to stay connected in contested environments,” Gerhart said in a statement. 

Engineers tested PTES over an on-orbit operational commercial satellite, Boeing said. “We were able to do an end-to-end test of all the components and prove operational capabilities for PTES over the air using an on-orbit satellite,” said Troy Dawson, the company’s vice president of government satellite systems.

“By augmenting current systems with PTES, which is designed to be forward and backward compatible with government and commercial systems, the U.S. DoD and its allies are able to meet the challenges of an evolving battlefield,” Dawson said.

The U.S. Space Force initially plans to deploy the PTES as the ground system for the U.S. government’s Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) fleet. Boeing is the primary contractor for WGS and has produced 11 satellites to date. Congress in the 2023 budget added funds for a 12th satellite.

Boeing said PTES is on track to be fielded in 2024. 

The company under a separate Space Force contract is developing a jam-resistant satellite communications payload — called the Protected Tactical Satcom Prototype, or PTS-P — expected to launch in 2024 for an on-orbit demonstration. 

Illustration of the Wideband Global Satcom architecture. Credit: @BoeingDefense

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