Jam-Resistant Waveform for Safer Battlefield Communications to Get First In-Space Test

Onboard an undisclosed host satellite launching in 2024, a Boeing-built prototype processor could become the “first space-based hub” of the military’s Protected Tactical Waveform for jam-resistant battlefield communications, the company says.

Boeing’s Protected Tactical SATCOM Prototype, or PTS-P, is meant to demonstrate better standoff distance, less latency, “and other mission-enabling capabilities” over existing tactical satellite communications, according to a statement by the company. The prototype has passed its critical design review, and Boeing predicts it will become the “first space-based hub of the U.S. military’s jam-resistant waveform.”

The Space Force’s Space Systems Command—in its prior incarnation as the Space and Missile Systems Center—awarded contracts in 2021 for in-space demonstrations to both Boeing and Northrop Grumman under the Protected Tactical SATCOM rapid prototyping program.

“We’re making great progress on this pacesetter program,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, the deputy chief of Space Systems Command’s Tactical SATCOM Division, in the statement. “We’ve asked all industry partners to move fast—to build, iterate, demonstrate, and improve performance so we can deploy much faster than we typically would.”

Boeing’s subsidiary Millennium Space Systems is helping with the rapid prototyping. Part of the prototyping has been to make sure PTS-P is interoperable with other government equipment. The software-implemented Protected Tactical Waveform is expected to run on the military’s Wideband Global SATCOM constellation. Boeing also recently announced the next satellite in that constellation passed its critical design review as well.

The process of placing the PTS-P payload on the host satellite, and the associated testing, will start in 2023.