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By Tech. Sgt. Erica Picariello, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 31, 2020
Imagine a secure communications room, like what has been shown in big-screen blockbuster movies…dozens of space and communications professionals behind computer terminals working together to deny an adversary the ability to attack the United States.
Now imagine being able to pick-up and throw that entire room into a plane and drop it into a deployed location, enabling allied forces to counter attacks in the midst of a crisis.
That is the capability that the 21st Space Wing will soon bring online with impending operational acceptance of the new Counter Communications System upgrade.
“The Counter Communications System is a transportable satellite communications system that provides a ground-based capability to reversibly deny adversary satellite communications,” said Maj. Seth Horner, United States Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center CCS B10.2 program manager. “CCS has had incremental upgrades since the early 2000’s, which have incorporated new techniques, frequency bands, technology refreshes, and lessons learned from previous block upgrades. This specific upgrade includes new software capabilities to counter new adversary targets and threats.”
Total force Airmen worked with L3Harris during the last year to put together a comprehensive training program for this new software upgrade for the technicians who would be using it, as well as sending the software through rigorous testing.
“Eight personnel from the 4th Space Control Squadron went through a rigorous 12-week course from April through June to become the first certified space control operators and SATCOM maintenance personnel for the new CCS integrated system,” Horner said. “This course material has now transitioned to the 721st Operations Support Squadron to start training crews at the end of January.”
Even though training was available and personnel trained to command the asset, there was still work to be done to ensure operational success.
“We just went through a year-long test campaign that included both developmental and operational test events,” Horner said. “Fourth SPCS provided operators for the test events and they performed exceptionally. Overall, the test campaign was extremely successful in demonstrating that CCS is operationally effective thanks to the incredible skill from those 4 SPCS operators. With the test events being successful, we are poised for an operational acceptance decision to be made soon.”
This successful test campaign is a war-time game-changer, according to the 4th SPCS commander, Lt. Col. William Sanders.
“The upgraded CCS system is a game-changer for deployed ground forces,” Sanders said. “Today, deployed forces benefit from a similar quick reaction capability providing direct operational support daily. With operational acceptance of CCS, we can employ greater effects for the combatant commands.”
SMC leadership is equally excited to have this 21st SW asset operational in support of USSF warfighting operations.
“CCS is the only offensive system in the United States Space Force arsenal,” said Lt. Col. Steve Brogan, SMC combat systems branch materiel leader of the SMC special programs directorate. “This upgrade puts the ‘force’ in Space Force and is critical for Space as a warfighting domain.”
Upon operational acceptance, SMC leadership plans to present a symbolic “key” to the upgraded CCS system to the 4th SPCS commander in a ceremony on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, to signify the transition to full operations.