Multiple squadrons from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing conducted a Hatch Mounted SATCOM (Satellite Communication) Antenna System (HMSAS) demonstration at Hangar 0 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Jan. 9.
Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 373, MWSS-372, Marine Aerial Refueler and Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352, and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 363 installed and operated the antenna to demonstrate its real-world capabilities to the 3rd MAW commanding general, Maj. Gen. Mark Wise.
The HMSAS was developed for pre-deployment training in order to enhance communications for raid force and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP) missions, in preparation to support a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF).
The HMSAS is the first system to provide the capability of in-flight communication to include commercial internet, commercial services and secured DOD services, during flight.
The system is designed to support units like SPMAGTF that operate across vast areas, which inherently increases communications challenges. Real-time communication from the air to the ground is that much more critical when the routes of the aircraft are longer, said Moore.
A situation during pre-deployment training and real-world operations can change dramatically from the time the aircraft takes off to the time it lands, so units need the capability maintain situational awareness en route, added Moore.
The HMSAS brings real-time communication from an aircraft to Marines on the ground, faster than communication systems in the past.
“The Marine Corps has similar networks, the Networking On-The-Move (NOTM) that are on the back of Humvees for ground-to-ground communication,” said Sgt. Juan Rangel, MWSS-373 cyber network specialist. “The HMSAS also contains a phone application. All this connects to a satellite in space and then connects back to the ground. The NOTM is similar, but the HMSAS is special because it’s in the air.”
The HMSAS has a promising future in Marine Corps communication, according to units who participated in this demonstration.
“It’s still a fairly new platform and the way we’re deploying them on Marine Expeditionary Units, SPMAGTFs, or in any crisis response, it extends the reigns so much that it goes beyond any communication system we’ve had in the past,” said Moore. “A system like this is just the beginning; there’s going to be improvements. This is just the first of many to come.”