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The Growing Role of Satellite Communications in Multi-Domain Operations (Studio)

10th July 2024 - 14:00 GMT | by Studio

The landscape of military and humanitarian operations is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by the increasing necessity for real-time, secure information sharing across multiple domains. As multi-domain operations and information superiority become central to mission success, the role of satellite communications (SATCOM) is evolving to meet these critical demands.

Brought to you in partnership with Intelsat

In today’s complex operational theatres, terrestrial communication systems often fall short. This is where SATCOM excels, providing timely, secure, and reliable data transfer essential for building accurate situational awareness.

Speaking at Eurosatory 2024, Richard Snaith, Managing Sales Director for Global Government at Intelsat, underscored this point, stating, ‘The accurate delivery of information is critical to success in terms of either expediting a response to a situation or giving a warning that some action may need to be taken.’

Yet some regions may be too remote to access efficient and secure terrestrial communication systems, or some theatres of operations may be very complex, thus requiring armed forces to leverage multi-domain data to build as accurate a situational awareness picture as possible.

‘Data transfer is where SATCOMs really shine,’ Snaith explained, ‘Intelsat supports both humanitarian and military operations with a timely, secure, and speedy delivery of information to where it’s required, be that to central decision-makers or operators in the field who require data to affect a response.’

SATCOM’s importance is further highlighted by the growing demand from nations to establish sovereign space infrastructures, enhancing their capability to maintain secure communications independently. This trend is not only about national security but also about economic growth and technological advancement.

Innovations Driving the Future of SATCOM

To address these evolving needs, Intelsat is spearheading several initiatives to enhance SATCOM capabilities. The company focuses on delivering integrated communications solutions that encompass multi-band and multi-orbit (LEO, MEO, and GEO) systems.

This approach offers improved performance and resilience, providing armed forces with flexible and robust communication options.

Rory Welch, Vice President of Global Government & Satellite Services at Intelsat, highlighted the company’s commitment to advanced networking capabilities.

‘We are pursuing a lot of advanced networking capabilities to provide more resilience, better performance, better quality of service, to facilitate integration between the space and terrestrial layers,’ Welch explained.

Intelsat is also developing Smart Edge terminals to simplify and enhance the delivery of actionable data on the battlefield. These terminals aim to reduce complexity, ensuring that data is easily accessible and usable by warfighters, thus improving decision-making and operational efficiency.

‘We take the complexity away and provide a seamless experience for the warfighter so that data is made actionable in the easiest and quickest way possible,’ Snaith added.

Collaborating for Sovereign Space Capabilities

A significant trend is the movement towards developing sovereign space networks. Nations with their own space assets gain secure, autonomous communications and foster economic growth through investments in the space sector.

Rajeev Gadre, Senior Sales Director for Satellite Services and Global Government at Intelsat, notes that operating or building space infrastructure requires investments around the entire ecosystem and supply chain, as well as upskilling and training a nation’s people to support that economy.

However, Gadre emphasises that developing sovereign space capabilities does not mean going it alone. Partnerships with experienced entities can accelerate the learning curve, providing access to a suite of services, including consulting, training, manufacturing, launch support, and full satellite operations lifecycle support.

‘Whether you’re just starting in space, or you’ve already accessed space with your space programme, countries can benefit from the experience of partners like Intelsat, who has been around for the last 60 years and has launched hundreds of satellites,’ Gadre explained.

‘And also, when it comes to space, people forget that ground infrastructure is a critical component,’ Gadre added. ‘Intelsat has a suite of suppliers and providers we can work with to provide the complimentary down infrastructure for a customer’s space asset.’

This collaborative approach ensures that even nations new to the space domain can rapidly develop and deploy effective space programmes.

Future Prospects

The recent announcement of SES’s acquisition of Intelsat will further strengthen the company’s ability to offer comprehensive support for national space programmes.

This acquisition aims to expand the portfolio of multi-orbit and multi-band solutions available to customers, enhancing Intelsat’s capacity to meet diverse and evolving communication needs.

Ultimately, the advancements in SATCOM and the strategic developments in sovereign space infrastructures are pivotal in enhancing command and control capabilities. As Richard Snaith puts it, ‘It is all about improving command and control, getting people to make better decisions more quickly, and ultimately, improving the safety of life and command decisions.’




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