***image1***One week before Christmas, the 1st Combat Communications Squadron got a
gift it had been wanting for a long time: a high-tech satellite called
the Swiftlink Very Small Aperture Terminal.
which is the first in U.S. Air Forces in Europe, provides combat comm
with some things they were lacking in the previous satellite.
such as space will no longer be a major issue, as the new
satellite is so compact that it can be broken down and carried in two
This compares well to the previous International
Maritime Satellite, which requires an entire cargo pallet to transport.
The compact size allows the VSAT to be checked onto civilian airplanes
and makes getting the satellite to remote locations much easier, said
Airman 1st Class Timothy Wheeler, 1st CBCS satellite technician, who is
trained on the VSAT.
“With the equipment being so much smaller
it will be much quicker to throw on an airplane and allow us to give
more support to the warfighter,” said Airman Wheeler. “As an Airman, I
am excited to be able to work with this.”
The VSAT will also save
money and time. Using the new satellite will save the Air Force
tens of thousands of dollars, said Capt. Rick Brown, 1st CBCS quick
reaction flight commander. The previous INMARSAT cost $8 per hour to
“We had bills of more than $20,000 after some missions,” said Captain Brown.
VSAT is charged monthly for unlimited use. With the amount of missions
and exercises carried out by combat comm, the yearly price for the VSAT
would be reached in about four months with the previous satellite.
is also saved by the new satellite. With its compact size, the total
time to get the whole system up and running is reduced from hours to
minutes and can be done by one troop compared to seven or eight.
time saved is due to the VSAT’s size and its amazing capabilities, said
Captain Brown. The VSAT has auto-tracking capabilities, which allows it
to track and detect any contracted satellites in the sky, and it can
retrieve the strongest signal. Before, the satellite had to be manually
adjusted until a strong signal was established.
“It makes our
job a lot easier; it’s pretty much plug and play, and it gives us more
time to troubleshoot any problems and is a lot less equipment to
account for,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony Markette, 1st CBCS satellite
The VSAT can detect its location anywhere in the
world and is capable of providing telephone and secure and non-secure
Internet access anywhere. It also allows 20 simultaneous users,
compared to two non-simultaneous users, on the INMARSAT. The speed at
which the new satellite operates is also remarkably faster, said
Its bandwidth is eight times faster than the
old satellite, and it also stores detected satellites in a database so
it can instantly recall them.
“This system represents the future
of the communications career field, it’s important that we get lighter,
leaner and still provide robust support to the warfighter,” said 1st
CBCS Commander Lt. Col. Jeff Maxwell.