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AN/TSC-156A, SHF Triband SATCOM Terminal--'Phoenix'.

The AN/TSC-156 terminal, also known as the Phoenix, is a transportable multi-channel tactical satellite communications terminal operating in the super-high frequency band. Its mission is to provide flexible, mobile, high-capacity, extended-range communications connectivity using military and commercial satellite space segments. The Phoenix may interface with other strategic networks via standardized tactical entry points or strategic assets.

The August 2004 issue of the Army Communicator provided an update of the SHF Phoenix Block 1 terminal and its intended development path. Since that time there have been a number of developments and the testing and approval of the Quad-Band Phoenix Block 2 version.

Phoenix Block 1 Fielding

To date, 22 Phoenix Block 1 terminals have been manufactured with 20 being fielded to operational units in all major theaters (the other two terminals were used to develop the Block 2 terminal). As with most new systems, a few problems arose with the Block 1 terminals, all of which have been addressed and appear to be resolved.

The most critical problem was terminal overheating encountered by units serving in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The Phoenix has a liquid exchange cooling system that was extensively tested in environmental chambers. The heat symptom units experience did not match the environmental data collected during the testing. After much research into the problem by the Army Product Manager for Multi-channel Satellite Terminals and the contractor L3 Communications Systems (West), the problem was discovered. The enclosure roof of the Phoenix has insulation to reduce the heat induced via sun loading. Extended time in high heat conditions caused the glue that holds the insulation to the roof to fail. The insulation then dropped into the duct that provides the cooling air for the equipment blocking the duct and the enclosure overheated. To fix the problem, PdM MST and L3 West used a different type of insulation and glue. They also devised a physical restraint so the insulation cannot drop into the cooling ducts if the new glue fails. This fix will be applied to all fielded terminals and all follow-on production units. A second cooling issue with the High-Power Amplifiers has been corrected with new mounting hardware for air diverters.

Modifications required for the Phoenix Block 1 terminals because of the overheating issues are being done in the field. These corrections have been extensively tested in the environmental chamber and appear to fix the problems. Additionally PdM MST will increase the terminals high-end heat operations above the current specification by implementing changes in the Environmental Control Unit.

There have also been some higher than expected failures with some components and these are being corrected in the Block 1 version. The on-board spares and Authorized Stockage List has also been enhanced to compensate for the higher failure rate of some components. Some items experiencing reliability problems in the Block 1 will be replaced by different components in the Block 2 version. Training and Doctrine Systems Manager Satellite Communications and PdM MST will continue to closely monitor these issues to insure that the Phoenix terminals meet unit requirements.

Phoenix Block 2 progress update

To reduce program risk, the Phoenix terminal was developed and procured in two blocks. The Block 2 Phoenix builds on the basic Block 1 Phoenix configuration. The Block 2 is a quad-band capable terminal consisting of one wired enclosure with redundant radio frequency, baseband, and antenna equipment and a second pallet with power generation and ancillary via sun loading. Extended time in high heat conditions caused the glue that holds the insulation to equipment. It is capable of C-5/17/ 130/141 roll-on/off without special preparation, and it is transportable by land, sea, and rail. The terminal/ vehicle combination is single-point sling-loaded by CH-47 rotary wing aircraft.

The Block 2 Phoenix is transported by two M-1113 or M-1152 Enhanced Capacity Vehicles. The first vehicle carries the integrated terminal enclosure and two operators with their personal and mission gear (to include A&B bags, rucks, spares, water cans, etc.). The second support vehicle [mobile power unit] carries a pallet-mounted, 10 kW Tactical Quiet Generator. The support vehicle also carries two operators with their personal and mission gear. Additionally, the MPU carries Basic Issue Item Diagnostic Spares, feed assemblies, and other terminal equipment. Both vehicles have 400 amp kits to provide short-term (24 hours) backup power. External commercial alternating current power can also be used.

The Block 2 Phoenix will be designated the AN/TSC-156A and adds the capability of using a fourth band known as Ka-band, which will be available on the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite. Ka-band will allow higher throughput so the Phoenix Block 2 terminal has added components to provide more throughput. The addition of the fourth band adds redundant Kaband HPAs, quad band converters and the use of a sub-reflector and new feed assembly. The two additional Ka-band HPAs will be permanently mounted on the sides of the antenna backbone. The sub-reflector and feed assembly will be mounted when using Ka-band and will be stored on the terminal when not in use.

The Phoenix will still be capable of multi-node operations with up to four full duplex links in hub-spoke, hybrid mesh, or point-to-point modes. To increase throughput a new AMT-73L modem and D4 Enhanced Tactical Satellite System Processor will be added capable of higher port rates and aggregate data rates up to 20024 Kbps including orderwire and overhead. A quad multiplexer with fiber-optic connection will be added as well as an MD-1272 format fiber optic port and a DNE CV-8448F format fiber-optic port. The Phoenix can transmit/ receive up to four commercial T1/E1 transmission groups at 1.544/2.048 Mbps per group. It can interface with six Digital Transmission Groups at data rates up to 1152 Kbps per DTG or Conditioned Di-Phase rates up to 4608 Kbps using CX-11230 cable or 8192 Kbps using fiber optic cable for a total throughput of up to 20024 Kbps.

The Phoenix Block 2 will also interface with up to eight balanced Non-Return-to-Zero groups at rates up to twelve Mbps per port. D4 ETSSP bypass capability will be retained with a connection from one of the input ports to provide a point-to-point link at rates up to 20 Mbps. An L-band IF port is also provided for access to the modem in a point-to-point mode. Patching will allow the various types and combinations of military and commercial data rates, formats, and transmission groups/DTGs, to be combined to the maximum extent possible to use the total aggregate throughput of 20 Mbps.

Phoenix Block 2 terminals retain their backward compatibility with legacy AN/TSC-93B/C/D, AN/TSC-85B/C/D and AN/TSC-143 terminals to the second level multiplexer (TD-1337 and ETSSP) and STEP/Teleport terminals. Setup and tear down time for the Phoenix is 30 minutes with a three-person (MOS 25S) operator/maintainer crew. Normal crew size is four operators/ maintainers and the terminal uses a two level maintenance concept. The Phoenix is capable of using the Lightweight High Gain X-Band Antenna AS-4429/ TSC as an external antenna to provide additional transmit and receive gain, as mission needs dictate.

A computer-based control, monitor, and alarm system provides operator interface for ease of setup, operation, and maintenance via laptop computer. The laptop will be modified to allow it to be remoted up to 300 meters using a fiber-optic connection. A spare laptop is provided for each terminal. KIV-19 Trunk Encryption Devices provides Transmission Security for up to four circuits that require them. A KY-99 is used to secure the D4 ETSSP orderwire between terminals.

Phoenix Block 2 Testing

Two Phoenix Block 1 terminals were retained to use in the development of the Phoenix Block 2. These two terminals were tested in a network demonstration using C, X and Ku-band satellites and, because WGS is not currently in orbit, a satellite emulator for Ka-band. Once the WGS satellite is launched, Phoenix Block 2 terminals will be a part of its operational tests.

The Quad Band Satellite Emulator used for the Ka-band portion of the test is part of the Phoenix Block 2 development. A QBSE will be issued to every unit getting Phoenix Block 2 terminals. The QBSE will operate in all four bands and can be remotely controlled from up to 1,200 feet. The QBSE provides a beacon frequency for acquisition and bands can be switched remotely and provide some attenuation adjustment for transmit and receive to more closely simulate the satellite.

The Phoenix Block 2 development also included the Phoenix Network Planning Tool. The PNPT will automate the building of the crew assignment sheets (cut sheets) and will also provide planners the ability to give the operator a CD or memory stick to automate loading the configuration onto the laptop. Each unit will also get a copy of the PNPT and a laptop to run it on. The PNPT will be part of the Phoenix Block 2 Tactics Techniques and Procedures training.

Modification of Block 1

Modification of fielded Block 1 terminals is expected to start in April 2006 with all 20 Block 1 terminals being upgraded to Block 2 by the end of this calendar year. The modification will be done on site. The modification will take 13 days including the Delivery Acceptance Test. After DAT, a three week New Equipment Training class will be given along with a one week TTP Planners and Managers Course.

For newly built (production version) Block 2 terminals, the process will be three weeks of NET followed by a one week DAT and the TTP. The MOS 25S course will receive two terminals this year as well as a Phoenix Training Simulator. Another two terminals will follow sometime in the future.

For further information on the Phoenix SATCOM terminal, contact Bill Campbell, TSM-SATCOM, (706) 791-7886, DSN 780-7886, email:

Mr. Campbell is a retired Army master sergeant with an extensive background in military satellite communications, both in tactical and strategic units. He provides his expertise and experience as a contractor supporting the TSM SATCOM.


AC--alternating current ASL--Authorized Stockage List BIIDS--Basic Issue Item Diagnostic Spares CDI--Conditioned Di-Phase CMA--control, monitor, and alarm DAT--Delivery Acceptance Test DTG--Digital Transmission Groups ECU--Environmental Control Unit ECV-Enhanced Capacity Vehicles ETSSP--Enhanced Tactical Satellite System Processor HPA--High Power Amplifiers LHGXA--Lightweight High Gain XBand Antenna MOS--military occupational specialty MPU--Mobile Power Unit MST--Multi-channel Satellite Terminals NET--New Equipment Training NRZ--Non-Return-to-Zero OEF--Operation Enduring Freedom OIF--Operation Iraqi Freedom PdM--Product Manager PNPT--Phoenix Network Planning Tool QBSE--Quad Band Satellite Emulator RF--Radio Frequency SHF--super-high frequency STEP--standardized tactical entry points TED--Trunk Encryption Devices TQG--Tactical Quiet Generator TRANSEC--Transmission Security TSM--Training and Doctrine Systems Manager TSM SATCOM--TRADOC System Manager Satellite Communications TTP--Tactics Techniques and Procedures WGS--Wideband Gapfiller Satellite
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Title Annotation:TSM-SATCOM
Author:Campbell, Bill
Publication:Army Communicator
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2006
Previous Article:Army key management system--update.
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