M.U.O.S.

The M.U.O.S. (Mobile User Objective System) is a military telecommuncation system of the USA Navy. The ground system relies on four ground stations, located in Virginia (USA), Hawaii, Australia and Niscemi, Italy. Each M.U.O.S. station has three parabolic antennas with a diameter of 18.4 metres, using th Ka band (microwave) and due elicoidal antennas, 149 metres high, in the UHF band. Five geostationary satellites (four plus one spare) will connect the ground stations to mobile users.

The Italian M.U.O.S. ground station is located in the USA military base NRTF-8 (Naval Radio Trasmitter Facility) in Niscemi, Sicily. Here, 41 antennas in the UHF band and one in the LF band are already active since 1991. The LF antenna, about 140m high and radiates at 500-2000 KW, is used to communicate with diving submarines. From the results of a few monitoring campaigns by the Sicilian environment protection agency (ARPAS) the concern that this installation already exceeds the limits of the Italian law on EM radiations has strong scientific grounds.

Obviously, the scope of this complex infrastructure is the control and coordination of USA military systems around the world. The system will provide communication capabilities to the so-called mobile users, especially drones, the unmanned aircrafts the are already used in the USA military base in Sigonella, Sicily.

As far as we know, three out of four ground stations have been completed. The station in Niscemi, Sicily, has been completed and is undergoing a test phase. The first satellite has been launched in February 24th 2012 and tested until July 24th 2012. The last satellite launch is scheduled before the end of 2015. Then, the system will be fully functional. Although it has been said otherwise by institutions, the M.U.O.S. will not substitute the existing system in the NRTF-8 base (i.e., the 46 antennas). Most likely, the old system will work in parallel to M.U.O.S. for several years to come.

The NRTF-8 military base is located inside the natural reserve Sughereta di Niscemi, one of the few natural cork-oak parks in Italy. The park is protected by strict rules, enforced by law, that forbid any human intervention inside the park area. The park was established in 1997 and has been declared Communitary Interest Site from 2000, as one of the protected natural sites of the European Community. In 2008, the territorial plan of the Provincia di Caltanissetta, decreed that in the Sughereta building infrastructures is forbidden, as well ad building cables or trellises. Violating these prohibitions, a large part of a hill has been cleared and razed to the ground to make room for the M.U.O.S. station.