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SDA’s Transport Layer Tests Relay First Link 16 Satellite-to-Ground Signals

Groundbreaking test

SDA’s Transport Layer Tests Relay First Link 16 Satellite-to-Ground Signals

The Space Development Agency’s transport layer of low-Earth orbit data relay satellites using the military band Link 16 successfully communicated with ground-based radios during SDA tests from Nov. 21 to 27. 

According to SDA Director Derek Tournear, the tests showed for the first time the feasibility of linking via communication satellites the space, land, sea and air assets under the Department of Defense’s Joint All Domain Command and Control, Breaking Defense reported.

The link was established minus the costly development of a new digital data link and instead tapped Link 16, which is already widely used by the United States and its allies, Tournear also told Breaking Defense. He added that the test likewise demonstrated the Joint Fire Network’s vision under the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. 

The Link 16-equipped satellites sent messages to ground-based radios within one of the U.S. Five Eyes allies — the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. SDA did not identify the country involved in the test, but the Joint Fires Network’s Gen. John Aquilino said the test partner could be Australia or New Zealand because of INDOPACOM’s interest in the Link 16 demos. 

The SDA conducted the test using three York Space Systems satellites belonging to the agency’s first batch of experimental transport layer spacecraft called Tranche 0. Some 400 SDA transport layer satellites are planned for launch by the end of 2028, with new variants developed and launched every two years.

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Category: Space

Tags: Derek Tournear Link-16 low-Earth orbit satellites space Space Development Agency