Boeing engineers recently tested the new, autonomous technology for the U.S. Space Force to prevent jamming attempts on U.S. Department of Defense satellite communications (SATCOM).
The new system was tested at White Sands, New Mexico, showing how the technology can autonomously detect and counter-jamming efforts at the source in real time and provide secure communication in contested environments. During the demonstration, a series of simulated exercises using the U.S. Space Force’s Protected Tactical SATCOM Prototype (PTS-P).
PTS-P aims to provide the U.S. Military with space-based processing of the Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW), the military‘s jam-resistant waveform. The system uses software-defined beam-shaping to geolocate and actively suppress jamming in real time, with thousands of data points gathered every second.
“Maintaining communication with our deployed forces during hostility gives us a tactical edge on the battlefield,” said Justin Bruner, PTS-P Program Manager at the U.S. Space Force. “Our adversaries are always attempting to deny our ability to communicate. On-board, autonomous, real-time nulling of jammers greatly enhance 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.”
During the series of simulated exercises, an adversary attempted to block a user’s communication, including situations with numerous simultaneous jamming attempts. 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.
The additional PTS-P hardware and software demonstrations are planned in the coming months, with host vehicle integration set to begin in early 2023. The on-orbit demonstration is slated for 2024.
“The Space Force understands these rapid prototyping programs are needed to maintain technical and space superiority,” said Troy Dawson, vice president of Government Satellite Solutions at Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We are innovating to meet the needs of the evolving threat. This requires us to try things that we’ve never tried before, moving quickly, failing quickly, and ultimately fielding first-of-its-kind technology that is ready for the rigors of the battlefield. Our efforts on PTS-P are setting the pace and blazing a trail that I anticipate many more national security programs will follow.”