To make this website work, we log user data. By using Shephard's online services, you agree to our Privacy Policy, including cookie policy.

Open menu Search

How Seamless Communications are Enabling Multi-Domain Operations (Studio)

11th June 2024 - 14:00 GMT | by Studio


Photo: Intelsat

The availability of seamless, secure SATCOM solutions is transforming military communications. By leveraging hybrid networks, virtualisation, and emerging technologies such as optical networking, Intelsat enables efficient, interoperable data sharing across all domains, enhancing decision-making in critical situations.

Brought to you in partnership with Intelsat

What do cyber, land, air, and sea have in common? Communications. More specifically, there is a need to share large quantities of data from various sensors across multiple domains, beyond line of sight (BLOS), and within very short timeframes to enable fast, efficient, and effective multi-domain decision-making.

Space-based communications (SATCOM) have become critical in this context. But as threats become faster, more complex, and potentially multi-domain, how can all the necessary information be accessed quickly, securely, and across partners?

Leveraging decades of experience in space-based communications, Intelsat has developed solutions that enable seamlessly interoperable, dynamic, and scalable communications across networks and between allies.

As Rory Welch, Vice President for Global Government Satellite Services at Intelsat, stated, ‘Space-based communications have become increasingly essential for modern military forces that are really operating around the world in all domains, whether it’s air, land, sea, or space.’

Multi-Domain SATCOM Challenges

Over the past decade, the resurgence of peer and near-peer confrontation has resulted in faster, more varied, multi-domain threats. In such a context, multi-domain operations have become the norm rather than the exception.

Effective military operations now rely on access to large quantities of data from cyber, land, air, and sea to build complex, near-real-time situational awareness pictures and enable efficient and effective decision-making.

In this context, SATCOM has become an increasingly important core enabler. Beyond facilitating the exchange of large volumes of data gathered from sensors across multiple domains, space-based communications allow armed forces to circumvent potential terrestrial communication infrastructure damages and, most importantly, allow communication BLOS.

Photo: Intelsat

Yet, a number of limitations remain. Key among those is the fact that different SATCOM operating nations leverage various types of standards – i.e., waveforms – rendering information sharing between allies more complex.

Additionally, as SATCOM providers start to leverage different types of orbits, such as Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), in addition to Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO), switching between these can be difficult.

Finally, military operations often require connecting to terrestrial networks, especially at the tactical edge, which frequently entails different equipment, thus adding weight, complexity, and, inevitably, time to any mission.

Enabling Seamless Communications

Whether armed forces are carrying out military or humanitarian missions, the end game is the same: because every second can make the difference between life and death, information sharing speed, quality, and quantity is critical.

‘Looking at the future, we’re really talking about hybrid networks of military, commercial capabilities that are really enabling dynamic, interoperable, and scalable connectivity across multiple layers of connectivity, and across all domains,’ explains Welch.

That is why Intelsat is part of the WAVE (Waveform Architecture for Virtualized Ecosystem) Consortium. This initiative aims to bring interoperability to the SATCOM industry by establishing standardised architectures and specifications to enable virtualised networks.

In other words, if armed forces are no longer bound by hardware-dependent systems, they can easily access different types of waveforms, thus facilitating communication through SATCOM systems between allies and partners.

A Falcon 9 rocket launches a satellite designated as Intelsat G-37 in August 2023. (Photo US Space Force)

Intelsat is also leveraging virtualisation to enable seamless and secure orchestration of communication across domains so that warfighters can make decisions based on trusted data.

‘We’re leading the development of some of the thought leadership on these standards, things like 5G non-terrestrial networking standards, waveform virtualisation,’ Welch highlights.

Cloud solutions are key to this endeavour. They dynamically allow the efficient organisation of all the resources, facilitating multi-domain armed forces’ access to data across military and civil networks and between different orbits with one system – rather than through multiple kits. This multi-layered connectivity is critical for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency (PACE) communications plans.

Finally, to ensure multi-domain operations can achieve information superiority across all domains, SATCOM must allow fast and efficient information sharing. Yet, SATCOM is often known to suffer from latency issues.

That is why Intelsat has been working on the development of software-defined and optical networking communications.

Welch elaborates, “We’re investing in technology partners to develop optical communications capabilities. We’re pretty excited about that – this is an emerging technology, right – but we see that as a very robust capability in the future that will allow... highly secure connectivity.”

This innovative approach to SATCOM, which relies on the orchestration of bi-directional optical links, will provide faster, more interoperable connectivity between ground and space and across different orbits.

Meet Intelsat at Eurosatory

This year is the first time Intelsat will exhibit at Eurosatory, and it will display several of its advanced user terminals designed to facilitate the efficient dissemination of large volumes of trusted data across domains.

Just as importantly, Intelsat experts will be available to explain how the company is designing new ways of facilitating access to its innovative solutions, such as through the use of subscriptions.

Because geopolitical and threat environments change often and quickly, armed forces must be able to scale communications capacity up and down as needed.

To learn more about Intelsat's solutions, see the company at Eurosatory Hall 5b- E453




Shephard Studio works closely with companies and event organisers across the aerospace and defence industry …

Read full bio

Share to