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Modernization changes Offutt landscape

Modernization changes Offutt landscape

Employees from SAS construction disassemble the protective enclosure surrounding an AN/FSC-78 Heavy Satellite Terminal as part of efforts to remove the 640,000 pound terminal located inside the 55th Strategic Communications Squadron satellite communication facility on Offutt AFB, Neb., Feb. 17, 2018. The terminal was recently replaced with the AN/GSC-52B, which has the capability to provide 10 times the data transfer rate using the new Wideband Global SATCOM satellite constellation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

Modernization changes Offutt landscape

Chris Liverman and David Hartmann, both with SAS construction, disassemble the protective enclosure surrounding an AN/FSC-78 Heavy Satellite Terminal as part of efforts to remove the 640,000 pound terminal located inside the 55th Strategic Communications Squadron satellite communication facility on Offutt AFB, Neb., Feb. 17, 2018. The terminal was recently replaced with the AN/GSC-52B, which has the capability to provide 10 times the data transfer rate using the new Wideband Global SATCOM satellite constellation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

Modernization changes Offutt landscape

Employees from SAS construction disassemble the protective enclosure surrounding an AN/FSC-78 Heavy Satellite Terminal as part of efforts to remove the 640,000 pound terminal located inside the 55th Strategic Communications Squadron satellite communication facility on Offutt AFB, Neb., Feb. 17, 2018. The terminal was recently replaced with the AN/GSC-52B, which has the capability to provide 10 times the data transfer rate using the new Wideband Global SATCOM satellite constellation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

Modernization changes Offutt landscape

Employees from SAS construction disassemble the protective enclosure surrounding an AN/FSC-78 Heavy Satellite Terminal as part of efforts to remove the 640,000 pound terminal located inside the 55th Strategic Communications Squadron satellite communication facility on Offutt AFB, Neb., Feb. 17, 2018. The terminal was recently replaced with the AN/GSC-52B, which has the capability to provide 10 times the data transfer rate using the new Wideband Global SATCOM satellite constellation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

Modernization changes Offutt landscape

Employees from SAS construction disassemble the protective enclosure surrounding an AN/FSC-78 Heavy Satellite Terminal as part of efforts to remove the 640,000 pound terminal located inside the 55th Strategic Communications Squadron satellite communication facility on Offutt AFB, Neb., Feb. 17, 2018. The terminal was recently replaced with the AN/GSC-52B, which has the capability to provide 10 times the data transfer rate using the new Wideband Global SATCOM satellite constellation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

If you’ve ever driven along Butler Blvd. near the south side of the base, you most likely noticed the large golf ball-looking structure towering over a one-story building.

Until recently, this structure housed a legacy AN/FSC-78 Heavy Satellite Terminal that had been in use since 1977, providing critical national defense communications to the 55th Wing and U. S. Strategic Command.

After 40 years of service, the terminal was finally replaced with a much smaller but more powerful terminal. The new system, named the AN/GSC-52B, has the capability to provide 10 times the data transfer rate using the new Wideband Global SATCOM satellite constellation.

“Each of those satellites can move as much data per second as the entire constellation of the previous satellites,” said Joe Halamek, 55th Strategic Communications Squadron maintenance and operations supervisor.

The new satellite terminal is one of two installed at Offutt. The terminals now have the ability to utilize dual-band technology and can transmit and receive multiple telecommunication formats providing critical reach-back capability for the warfighter.

“We can provide communications from one user to anyone in the satellite footprint,” Halamek said.

The legacy AN/FSC-78 system was officially switched over to the new system on Dec. 2, 2017 as part of the Modernization of Enterprise Terminal program. It was one of only a few still in use by the U.S. Air Force and Army.

Throughout its tenure, the terminal has maintained a 99.9 percent terminal uptime rate. The new terminal will ensure critical global communications links remain online for years to come.

As part of the changeover, the 55th SCS junior ranking satellite technician, Airman 1st Class Hai Bin Li, had the honor of placing the legacy AN/FSC-78 Heavy Satellite Terminal into the “bird bath” position, pointing it straight up at the sky for removal.

"Many thanks to an incredibly adaptive team of professionals for their efforts to maintain the old technology and now shepherd in the new,” said Lt. Col. Gideon Hall, 55th SCS commander.

Contractors have been removing parts of the 640,000 pound terminal since it was decommissioned. On Feb. 17, they began removing the dome that enclosed the 60-foot parabolic shaped dish. The removal of the entire terminal is scheduled for completion by mid-March.