Defense Satellite Communications Systems

   The Defense Satellite Communications Systems is an important part of the comprehensive plan to support globally distributed military users.

     Currently, two Phase II and eight Phase III satellites orbit the earth at an altitude of more than 23,000 miles.  Defense Satellite Communications Systems III also carries a single channel transponder used for disseminating emergency action and force direction messages to nuclear capable forces. Each satellite utilizes six super high frequency transponder channels capable of providing worldwide secure voice and high rate data communications.

     The system is used for high priority communications such as the exchange of wartime information between defense officials and battlefield commanders.  The military also uses Defense Satellite Communications Systems to transmit space operations and early warning data to various systems and users.

     The first of the operational Defense Satellite Communications Systems II satellites was launched in 1971.  Their two-dish antennas concentrated electronic beams on small areas of the Earth's surface, but have limited adaptability in comparison to the newer Defense Satellite Communications Systems III.

     The Air Force began launching the more advanced Defense Satellite Communications Systems IIIs in 1982.  The system is built with single, multiple-beam antennas that provide more flexible coverage than their predecessors.  The single steerable dish antenna provides an increased power spot beam which can be tailored to suit the needs of different size user terminals.  Defense Satellite Communications Systems III satellites can resist jamming and are expected to operate twice as long as Defense Satellite Communications Systems IIs.

     Defense Satellite Communications Systems users operate on the ground, at sea or in the air.  A special-purpose single channel transponder is also on board the Defense Satellite Communications Systems III satellite.  Members of Air Force Space Command units, the 50th Space Wing's 3rd Space Operations Squadron at Falcon Air Force Base, Colorado and the 5th Space Operations Squadron at Onizuka Air Force Station, California, provide command and control for all Defense Satellite Communications Systems systems.

     Air Force Materiel Command's Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is responsible for development and acquisition of Defense Satellite Communications Systems satellites and ground systems.


Defense Satellite Communications Systems Specifications

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