L-band Tactical Satellite (L-TAC)

MSUA 2018 Award
L-TAC has recieved the MSUA 2018 Mobility Innovation Award

The award-winning L-band Tactical Satellite (L-TAC) service provides global, satellite-based, beyond line of sight (BLOS) communications on the move (COTM) for military Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and civilian Very High Frequency (VHF) users. L-TAC enables these users to operate secure voice and data circuits between tactical radios across a defined operating area without requiring additional user-provided terrestrial infrastructure.

Service is implemented using a single hop through the Inmarsat-4 satellite system via directly connected L-band uplinks and downlinks. This provides users with the same experience as if operating with UHF SATCOM, but through a cost-effective L-band satellite channel. Since the system directly links L-band uplink and downlink signals, it is not necessary for users to provide any fixed infrastructure to support the service.

Using standard tactical radios and field-proven kits from Spectra Group (UK) Limited (SlingShot®), rapid deployment and operation of tactical radio networks is supported. Operations on Inmarsat-4 narrow beams and synthesized beams are made possible with a low size, weight and power (SWaP) kit that includes omni-directional antennas. The system requires no user configuration to minimize the training burden. Further, the lightweight antenna adds the unique and essential capability of BLOS COTM: meaning the user does need to pause and locate the satellite while in operation. It also provides direct connectivity between UHF and VHF radios, thereby, allowing joint, coalition and multi-agency operations to communicate effectively and immediately.

The system is typically used to support tactical ‘Push-to-Talk’ voice networks in a military theater of operations and emergency services, where users spread across the coverage area share access to transmit a signal that can be heard by everyone else in the network (similar to a telephone conference call). The service may also be used for point-to-point data communications between terminals in theater.

The L-TAC service is currently in active government operations providing mission critical command and control plus coalition interoperability. A civilian variant is also available for police, fire and medical support services, emergency services, aid agencies, embassy communications, medical support services, border patrol and other civilian agency use. L-TAC solutions are provided for aviation, vehicle, maritime, or dismounted users.

  • Aviation capability is built around a walk on concept utilizing an omni-directional antenna to maintain satellite communications. The antenna can be permanently installed or used in an ad-hoc mode, using aircraft of opportunity. The walk on system can then be connected to the antenna by the passenger on boarding an aircraft so that secure tactical communications can continue while in flight. On arrival, the walk-on system can be disconnected from the aviation antenna and reconnected to the ground vehicle, maritime or manpack antenna to continue as normal. It has been deployed and successfully tested on both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.
  • Vehicle System is intended for use on any wheeled or tracked vehicle. This terminal uses a doughnut shaped antenna colloquially referred to as a ‘hamburger’ antenna. This antenna size is 5.7 x 2.3 inches. It is omni-directional and has been tested at speeds in excess of 80MPH (128KPH) without loss of voice or data communications.
  • Maritime System provide connectivity for any maritime platforms. This terminal is built around an omnidirectional antenna to enable continuous connectivity under a range of operating conditions. This terminal has been successfully tested and maintained voice and data connectivity at speeds up to 40knots with high speed turns.
  • Manpack System provides connectivity for dismounted users. This system is built around an omnidirectional antenna in the size of a soda can to enable continuous connectivity under a range of operating conditions. This system has been successfully tested and maintained connectivity during evaluation while the user was walking, running, kneeling and prone.

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