SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy announced plans Monday to launch a lighter, less expensive joint tactical satellite designed to improve battlefield communications.

The Tactical Microsatellite (TacSat)-4, which was funded by the Office of Naval Research and developed by the Naval Research Laboratory, will is scheduled to launch Sept. 27, with plans to begin transmitting data about a month later, according to a Navy news release.

The satellite will let servicemembers across the world use a handheld radio for mobile communications in the field without having to set up an antenna, Navy officials said. This lets constant connectivity to the operations hub and will cut down time on channel assignments.

“TacSat-4 fills a Navy and Marine Corps capability gap by enabling ‘comms on the move,’” said Bob McCoy, a senior scientist at the Office of Naval Research. “That is a unique feature of this system. No other Department of Defense satellite system can relay information from the satellite all the way down to warfighters’ portable communications packs and handheld radios.”

The fourth-generation microsatellite weighs 990 pounds compared to 4,300 pounds for the industry average and is less expensive than a conventional system, the release said.

From staff reports

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