The 460th Space Communications Squadron, Air Force Wideband Enterprise Terminals Program office, Tobyhanna Army Depot and Radome Services have been working together to replace an aging terminal or antenna on Buckley Air Force Base in order to increase capabilities and keep up with technological advances.
“The service life of the original antenna was nearing its end and the Army has been in the process of replacing terminals since early 2015,” said Master Sgt. Stephen Maclin, 460th Space Communications Squadron transmission systems assistant section chief.
The project to replace the decades old antenna began in April 2016, and is part of the Modernization of Earth Terminals project.
The MET project looks to replace aging antennas with new state-of-the-art antennas that enhance military communications and capabilities, Maclin stated.
In the mid 2000’s, new satellites began replacing the Defense Satellite Communications System III satellite constellations that had been launched in the 1980’s.
The new satellites, called the Wideband-band Gapfiller Satellites, are an advancement because they are able to transmit in both X and Ka frequency bands, whereas the DSCS III satellites could only transmit in the X band, explained Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rowland, 460th Space Communication Squadron NCO in charge of maintenance.
Due to this, the ground antennas had to be upgraded as well, not only because they were aging, but also because they weren’t able to use the full capabilities provided by the new satellites.
“The main purpose of the MET project is to maintain the warfighter’s ability to communicate back to the sustaining base during war or contingency operations via DoD or commercial super high frequency satellites,” Maclin said.
The new features will not only serve to modernize the existing fleet of large fixed site antennas, but will provide for enhanced performance, network management and signal processing systems.”
The project on Buckley is scheduled to be completed in October of 2016 and become operational in 2017.
“This gives Team Buckley better tools to provide the warfighters downrange with the most current information possible in the timeliest manner possible,” Maclin said. “Believe me, seconds/minutes count while you’re in a firefight.”