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SCANG's EV4 gets new upgrades

  • Published
  • By Capt. Roy Condrey
  • 169th Communications Flight
If you are a regular resident or visitor of McEntire JNGB, you may have noticed a slight change of scenery near the Morrell Gate. After ten productive years of service, the 169th Communications Flight, Eagle Vision IV (EV4) Mobile Ground Satellite Station has replaced their iconic four-meter antenna with a brand new state-of-the-art, 5.5-meter antenna. Although the new antenna is a bit larger than its predecessor and takes additional resources to setup and break down, its advantages come in the form of a larger visibility circle and stronger signal gain.

With this new antenna, EV4 is able to downlink the current satellites and is better prepared for new satellite integration such as the French-based SPOT 6, Pleiades (a very high-resolution, optical, earth-imaging satellite) and the new US-based World View 3, that is scheduled to be launched in late 2014.

In order for the previous system to integrate a new satellite, vendors would have to travel to McEntire and break down equipment, then send it back to their place of business to be able to make the necessary upgrades. This process could take weeks or even months to accomplish. The new design allows for simple plug-and-play capabilities which will make adding new satellites easier and faster.

The satellite dish is not the only new component that is larger. The team has also received a new shelter that contains new high-powered servers and larger data storage equipment. The new shelter expands to a whopping 20' x 20' work space. It offers three times the space than the previous shelter, allowing each technician additional space to work. The new system also provides 50% more processing speed than its predecessor. The additional processing speed allows EV4 to downlink and process a single scene in half the time of the previous system.

Although the entire new package is a tad bit larger, it still all fits in a single C-17 when deployed.

The Eagle Vision program consists of five DoD-deployable, commercial satellite ground stations that are located in S.C., Ala., Calif., Hawaii and Germany. They each provide customers with near real-time commercial satellite imagery of locations within their 1,300 mile visibility circle. Eagle Vision stations are used to collect and disseminate imagery to various government agencies such as FEMA and USGS during natural disasters, as well as support mission planning, time-critical targeting and non-war related operations.

Because Eagle Vision has the capability to quickly acquire near real-time, unclassified satellite imagery, they are highly sought after and utilized during most natural disasters within their visibility circle. The EV4 teams most often provide images for events such as fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. They have supported first responders' efforts during Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, the earthquakes in Japan and Haiti, as well as tornado and fires in the mid-west. Other than hurricanes, these events usually occur quickly and with no warning, therefore the team is required to be prepared to react and work unplanned hours.