August 23, 2016 – After two years of planning, the Modernized Earth Terminal (MET) project broke ground February 2016 at the 21st Space Operations Squadron’s Ellison Onizuka Satellite Operations Facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The new system will replace two 38-foot antennas, pedestals and associated equipment with two state-of-the-art antennas and communications equipment.
The Air Force Wideband Enterprise Terminal (AFWET) system communicates with a variety of satellites and keep military branches and other government agencies connected worldwide. The facility provides support to the Air Force Satellite Control Network, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and many other government agencies.
“AFWET is a system of systems, and the MET upgrade modernizes approximately 60 percent of the terminals,” said Shawn Patterson, the AFWET program manager, who has spent more than a decade working on the program.
Using a variety of satellites to transfer data, these terminals provide a backbone for the Global Information Grid. The MET equipment is capable of utilizing both the X and Ka bands on the Wideband Global SATCOM satellite, allowing for increased traffic. Legacy equipment currently operates in X band only.
The upgrade is being accomplished by several government agencies. Tobyhanna Army Depot is responsible for installing the majority of the hardware to include the antenna and pedestal. The U.S Army’s Information Systems Engineering Command is responsible for installing the communications equipment, which will significantly decrease the current equipment footprint in the facility.
Alignment and testing of the antenna is scheduled to begin in September, followed by on-site acceptance testing and joint site acceptance testing expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2017. The second antenna’s installation is scheduled in the second quarter 2017.