The U.S. Army officially opened a first-of-its-kind interactive training system developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation that supports the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) Satellite Communications program.
The WGS constellation of military satellites delivers secure, reliable, resilient communications worldwide for the United States and partner nations.
Soldiers training to manage and monitor WGS satellite communications (SATCOM) will use the Wideband Training and Certification System (WTCS) to apply classroom learning to simulations generated from real-world events. WTCS is installed on workstations at the Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence in Fort Gordon, Georgia.
WTCS-trained soldiers will soon staff the Army’s five Wideband Satellite Operation Centers (WSOCs) where they will manage satellite payloads, direct the actions of terminals accessing assigned satellites, control terminal transmissions and continuously monitor the system to protect SATCOM and maintain the health of the WGS constellation.
The first class of WSOC operators to use the WTCS graduated in February.
“By using WTCS to ‘train as we fight,’ WSOC operators will be better prepared to deliver their 24/7, no-fail mission to enable satellite communications for our warfighters. It is all about operational readiness; the Army’s number one priority,” said Col. Enrique Costas, program manager for Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems (PM DCATS).
WTCS simulates various subsystems SATCOM controllers use daily and creates virtual instances for training. The system features guided instruction, student-paced “free-play” in a simulated environment and computer-based training modules. It also includes a learning management system to tailor and track training and a managed document and lesson repository.
Northrop Grumman developed WTCS for the Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI). They also provide many of the ground systems used by the Army operators through similar development programs with the Army’s PM DCATS.
“WSOC operators have the responsibility to ensure satellite communications are always up and running. The WTCS will be an integral part of meeting that responsibility by providing training that prepares operators to handle basic operations and more importantly, to be able to handle anomalies and threats. WTCS offers the realistic training at an accelerated pace and a very reasonable cost,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. William E. Cole, the Program Executive Officer for PEO STRI.
“Northrop Grumman is proud of our role in the success of the WGS ground management for the past 13 years. We applied the expertise we’ve gained in that role to WTCS, enabling the system to truly simulate the operational aspects of this critical SATCOM ground management capability and assuring our warfighters are ready day one,” said Martin Amen, senior director, secure network operations, Northrop Grumman. “As WGS evolves, we look forward to continuing our contributions.”
In addition to delivering initial occupational specialty training for WSOC operators at Fort Gordon, WTCS workstations will be installed at WSOCs for sustainment training and operator certification.
Northrop Grumman was awarded the $14.8 million, five-year WTCS contract in December 2015. WTCS-related work, which is being performed in Orlando, Florida, will continue through December 2020.
Northrop Grumman’s secure network operations in Orlando develops several systems essential to management of the WGS. For nearly 20 years it has provided the United States with satellite communications software tools critical to the activation and operations of the nine WGS satellites in orbit. In July, the Australian Defence Force announced that Northrop Grumman would provide a satellite ground station and a wideband SATCOM network management system to give Australia full use of the WGS constellation.