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Satellite Communications Systems - The Royal Signals - British Army - Armed Forces - a9a8

THE ROYAL SIGNALS

SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS

VSC 501 Enhanced Satellite Ground Terminal
TALON Satellite Ground Terminal
REACHER Satellite Ground Terminal
SKYNET 5
Welfare Services


30 Signal Regiment deploys transportable and manpack satellite ground stations VSC501, Talon, and in the future Reacher - to provide communications links for headquarters or small groups located in remote parts of the world via its SKYNET 4B satellite system and the new Skynet 5 satellites.

VSC 501 Enhanced Satellite Ground Terminal

The VSC 501 Enhanced is a Land Rover based mobile satellite ground terminal, which has recently been upgraded to automatically track satellites in their figure of eight orbit. This equipment was first used in the Falklands war in 1982 and is currently in service in Iraq on Operation Telic. The VSC 501 terminals will be replaced by Reacher when Skynet 5 is operational.

TALON Satellite Ground Terminal

Talon is a lightweight deployable terminal to fulfil both tactical and strategic roles, it uses the best of the civilian world packaged to provide a terminal suitable for military use.

Talon is easily transported and set up, by a crew of two trained operators within 30 minutes. Control of the terminal is from a ruggedised laptop at either the 'indoor' or remote location. Talon has been successfully used by the ARRC (Allied Rapid Reaction Corps) in Germany for one year and used extensively in the very harsh conditions experienced during Operation Telic in Iraq, one such terminal operating continuously for a period in excess of five months with no failures.


REACHER Satellite Ground Terminal

Reacher is designated as the replacement for the VSC 501 and will be provided in three types:

Reacher Medium - a fully ruggedised next-generation land terminal specifically designed for X-Band Military Satellite Communications. Designed to operate with a Forward Operating Headquarters Unit, it is mounted on a Bucher Duro 6 x 6 vehicle and has a detachable Intermediate Group cabin and associated trailer. Has a 2.4m Antenna.

Reacher Large - Mounted on the same vehicle as the Reacher Medium, this unit has a 4.5 m Antenna.

Reacher All Terrain - This Reacher terminal is mounted on two BV206 vehicle and associated trailers.

All Reacher terminals are transportable using Chinook helicopters, C130 Aircraft, sea and rail.

SKYNET 5 SATELLITE SERIES

A new series of SKYNET 5 satellites is expected to enhance SATCOM facilities in the future. In 2003, the Skynet 5 contract was awarded to Paradigm. The company is tasked with delivering secure military satellite communications to UK armed forces around the world.

The contract is worth around 2 billion over 20 years. This is one of the largest private finance initiatives (PFI) of its kind. Skynet 5 became operational in 2007.

The capacity of Skynet 5 is expected to be about 2.5 times greater than the existing system. Users will be able to send and receive information much more quickly.

The Skynet 5 series (A, B and C) will deliver military satellite communication services to the Armed Forces until 2018.



Skynet 5A: During April 2007 Skynet 5A was launched. Skynet 5A, is the first of three satellites to be launched under a 3 billion Private Finance Initiative (PFI) programme which has seen the UK MoD working in partnership with Paradigm Secure Communications, who are the service providers, and EADS-Astrium, who built the satellite itself.

The satellite, with its antenna technology and high power and data rates, provides a significant enhancement to operational capability for the UK Armed Forces - whether deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan or at sea. It is also being used in the field of welfare services, to provide 'free' messages between service personnel on operations and their families and friends.

The Skynet 5A communications satellite, in orbit 40,000 km above the earth's surface, beams communications signals between headquarters in the UK and British forces deployed across the globe.

The next satellite, Skynet 5B, is due to be launched towards the end of 2007 and Skynet 5C in 2008


Welfare Services

As part of the MoD's Operational Welfare Package (OWP) Paradigm Services provides entitled UK personnel on operational duty overseas with 20 minutes of publicly funded calls per week. On top of this personnel are enabled to augment their welfare allowance through the purchase of 10 pre-paid phone cards.

Forces families can add extra credits to the welfare card. All that is needed is their card number, a payment method and a call to Paradigm's Customer Support number (01438 778181).

In new theatres, internet access is available for personnel both to access Web sites and to sent and receive e-mail