Canadian Lt. Commander Cameron Chapman (center) makes voice calls using the U.S. MUOS satellite communications system. Credit: George Blackwood, U.S. Space Force

WASHINGTON — The Canadian Department of National Defense became the first international partner to access the U.S. Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite network, the U.S. Space Force announced Nov. 30.

MUOS, developed by the U.S. Navy, is used for voice, video and data transmissions over a narrowband network of satellites in geosynchronous orbit — four operational satellites and one on-orbit spare. The Navy in March 2023 handed over the system to the Space Force. 

Canadian operators in a demonstration in October used MUOS for voice and data transmission using military tactical radios from two locations in Ottawa.

Canadian officers used secure military radios to make point-to-point calls, transfer files, and access group chat services on the network. The MUOS satellites, made by Lockheed Martin, operate in the ultra-high frequency band and use 3G cellular telephone technology to provide digital narrowband signals for mobile forces. 

The project to allow Canada access to the MUOS network started four years ago when Canada initiated a foreign military sales agreement with the United States.

Demonstration called a success

Canadian users showed they could push-to-talk and connect from one Canadian radio terminal to another, Thomas Cesear, head of the MUOS integration lab, said in a news release. 

“They also were able to successfully accomplish other services like chat, file transfer, email, as well as group calls,” he said. 

Another demonstration is scheduled for March 2024,  said Canada’s Department of National Defense project leader Scott Mackenzie.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...