With both military and commercial satellite communications now residing within the Air Force Space Command, the opportunities for a long-envisioned, wideband SATCOM architecture are coming closer to reality.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has been moving toward this goal for many years; it’s necessary to meet exponentially increasing calls for bandwidth (from more than 21 Gbps of FSS and HTS frequency demand in 2017 to an expected 250+ Gbps by 2027.*)
With more and more demands on the military’s satellite infrastructure – including high-throughput data rates and real-time airborne connectivity – the ability to procure and manage both MILSATCOM and COMSATCOM under one roof has the potential to make mission-critical communications much more efficient and effective.
Acquisition changes alone can be a major component in this push. By moving away from LPTA contracts and by looking at “Satellite as a Service” solutions, DoD can see not only greater capabilities, but better budget control, as greater demand and improved technologies, including better compression algorithms, have led to falling prices.
A fully integrated COMSATCOM—MILSATCOM architecture can better support the functional areas that are driving satellite demand: land-mobile and UAS capabilities, which lead demand for military use, generating over 64% of revenue for providers.* Key success factors that can be supported include more flexible, interoperable terminals, along with a more comprehensive view of the communications network.
By working alongside government, interoperability can be designed into each succeeding generation of technology, eliminating one of the biggest stumbling blocks to new tech. Also, the use of commercial bandwidth augments the military’s dedicated capabilities, which can be essential when trying to provide global coverage. And, essential performance factors, from regularly refreshed technologies to security, are well-supported by the commercial sector.
Security is worth focusing on, as it’s been stated often that space is a contested environment. Protecting satellites from cyber threats, as well as physical attacks, will be crucial to ensuring capacity is available when needed. Resilience is a fundamental part of SATCOM security; a fully-integrated architecture can go beyond merely supplementing military capacity to supporting a redundant, smart, distributed communications network that can ensure uninterrupted access.
Most of all, an integrated COMSATCOM—MILSATCOM architecture is the foundation for introducing new capabilities and solutions, including beam forming, software-defined satellites, mission-specific buses, and much more. From a national security standpoint, this approach can elevate already superior functions and deliver new ones more effectively than ever.
To learn more about commercial satellite solutions that augment and integrate with military capabilities, visit Intelsat General, developers of FlexAir, which provides in-flight data via the first Ku-band satellite managed network optimized for 45cm terminals on government aircraft.