Special Operations Command chooses SATCOM terminals from Tampa Microwave for covert use while in the field

Dec. 7, 2021
SDN-Lite provides multi-user, multi-classification SATCOM capabilities, and provides special forces users with worldwide communications connectivity.

MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Satellite communications (SATCOM) experts at U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., needed lightweight SATCOM equipment for covert use on the battlefield. They found their solution from Tampa Microwave LLC in Clearwater, Fla.

SOCOM officials announced a $62.1 million order to Tampa Microwave on Friday for Special Operations Forces Deployable Node–Lite (SDN-L) terminals, equipment, and spare parts for special forces SDN-L SATCOM.

SDN-L is the sub-one-millimeter variant of a family of special forces lightweight satellite communications (SATCOM) equipment for covert use on the battlefield. SDN-Lite terminals operate in X, Ku, and Ka SATCOM bands, and are part of the SDN family of systems, which represents an evolutionary follow-on replacement for the legacy Special Operations Deployable Node-Family of Terminals (SDN-FoT).

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Tampa Microwave won a $70 million five-year Special Operations Forces contract in 2018 for SDN-Lite, a sub one-meter aperture terminal for U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) that consists of modular, portable SATCOM terminal variants that handle secure and non-secure voice, video, and data communications at several classification levels.

The SDN-Lite provides multi-user, multi-classification satellite transmission and reception capabilities, and provide Special Operations users with worldwide connectivity to the SOF Information Environment (SIE) over several classifications via separately acquired baseband equipment.

The primary goal of the SDN-Lite is to reduce the size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP) of special forces SATCOM without compromising performance. The SDN family of SATCOM terminals is an evolutionary, follow-on life cycle replacement for the legacy SOF Deployable Node-Family of Terminals (SDN-FoT).

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The legacy SDN-FoT comprised the SDN-Lite, SDN-Medium, and the larger SDN-Heavy terminals. Upgraded terminals comprise several variants: a sub one-meter aperture terminal operating in the X, Ku and Ka frequency bands (SDN-Lite), a terminal in the range of 1.2-1.3 meter aperture with automatic satellite acquisition operating in the X, Ku and Ka bands (SDN-Medium), and a 2.0-2.4 meter aperture with automatic satellite acquisition and tracking, operating in the C, X, Ku, and Ka bands (SDN-Heavy).

SOF operates in environments with limited or no command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) infrastructure, which necessitates reliance on portable equipment that warfighters carry forward for initial command and control.

On this order Tampa Microwave will do the work at the Tampa Microwave facility Clearwater, Fla., and SOCOM mission units, and will complete work over the life of the contract. For more information contact Tampa Microwave online at www.tampamicrowave.com, or U.S. Special Operations Command at www.socom.mil.

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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