WGS-SATCOM
The Wideband Global SATCOM system is being enhanced to improve its resilience to jamming through software and some hardware improvements.

The US Air Force’s WGS satellite constellation will be outfitted with new electronic protection measures by 2022.

Boeing is leading the US Air Force’s Mitigation Anti-Jam Waveform Enhancement (MAJE). MAJE is designed to protect transmissions across the Wideband Global Satellite Communications (WGS) network. WGS carries X-band (7.9 gigahertz/GHz to 8.4GHz uplink/7.25GHz to 7.75GHz downlink) and Ka-band (26.5GHz to 40GHz uplink/18GHz to 20GHz downlink) traffic. The constellation is used by the Australian, Canadian and US departments of defence.

Scope

A written statement provided by the US Air Force to Armada said that the MAJE effort mainly includes software, and some limited hardware, enhancements. While not confirmed by the USAF, these could be added to the X-band and Ka-band channels used by the WGS. Reports have noted that the MAJE effort is primarily focused on beam shaping to allow WGS architecture to detect and locate jamming and then to adapt transmissions to avoid it.

Few details have been released as to what this might entail. This could see the phased array antennas used by the spacecraft electronically steering their transmission beams to avoid the jamming. Reports articulated back in 2016 suggest that these improvements have been rolled out across the WGS X-band channels. It is possible that similar improvements are also being conferred on the Ka-band channels.

Timelines

The USAF statement continued that MAJE has successfully completed its system requirement review, preliminary design review and critical design review. Some work still has still to be performed until the MAJE initiative is complete. This includes further testing, a security assessment and installation of the hardware and software. The statement continued that the programme should conclude in 2022.

by Dr. Thomas Withington