By 1st Lt. David Mishkin
3rd Space Operations Squadron
The 3rd Space Operations Squadron celebrated 200 cumulative years of successful on-orbit operations of the Defense Satellite Communication System Phase III constellation Feb. 17.
DSCS III’s mission is to provide worldwide secure long haul jam-resistant communications to not only the United States and allied warfighters deployed oversees, but to the President of the United States and national authorities.
The DSCS program has a long and prestigious history of providing communications to the warfighter starting in 1975 with the Initial DSCS program. IDSCS was so successful that the government purchased a Phase II DSCS program and the current Phase III, with the first launch commencing in 1982. The last two DSCS III spacecraft were launched in 2003 and are expected to be on orbit, providing vital communications until approximately 2025.
“DSCS III has achieved the largest total operational experience of any U.S. military communications satellite program to date,” said Lt. Col. Brent McArthur, 3rd SOPS commander.
The initial mission life span of the current DSCS constellation is 10 years. With the help of the Lockheed Martin Factory, Aerospace Corporation, Military Satellite Communications Wing, Army Strategic Command, U.S. Strategic Command, Defense Information Service Agency and 3rd SOPS DSCS III engineers, the DSCS average life span has surpassed 14 years. The oldest operational vehicle that provides communications to the warfighter was launched in 1992.
“The tireless efforts and dedication of the DSCS team has allowed the Department of Defense’s most reliable and secure communications platform to stay on orbit well past the intended life span, and still be able to provide vital communications,” said Kevin O’Loughlin, Lockheed-Martin Space Systems Company flight engineer.
The DSCS program not only supports the warfighter overseas with vital communications, it also supports warfighters located in the continental United States. The DSCS program supports the Air Force Satellite Control Network, Defense Switch Network, Secret Internet Protocol Router Network and diplomatic communications.
DSCS III has also been associated with Falcon III Tacsat/MBITR radio for wideband secure networking and the Spitfire used for tactical satellite radio for joint ground sea and air operations used for vital communications. The DSCS constellation also supported the 4th Mechanized Infantry Division stationed out of Fort Carson, Colo., during Operation Iraqi Freedom this past year and provided more than 90 percent of all morale calls made in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
With new technologies emerging, to include WGS, the newest military communications asset, the members of 3rd SOPS should always remember the legacy and proud heritage of the DSCS program, and should feel privileged to be a part of the DSCS team.
The DSCS community is looking forward to another 100 years on orbit, silently supporting one of the greatest needs of any modern military… secure and reliable communications.