In a previous post on the GovSat Report, my associate Randy Bland eloquently described some of the reasons why satellite communications were so essential in the military today.
Ultimately, the military needs the ability to keep warfighters and military intelligence personnel connected in the field, and they simply can’t rely on only terrestrial networks to accomplish that.
Therefore, it makes sense that the military would rely on satellite networks to deliver essential data and IT services to the “tip of the spear”. But what is surprising to many is how frequently the military relies on commercial satellite services (COMSATCOM) to shoulder this load.
There are many different networks currently being run across the United States military that illustrate just how extensively our armed forces run on COMSATCOM. But let’s focus on two programs currently being facilitated by SES GS – Trojan and Thule Air Force Base.
The Trojan Program provides access to a global, end-to-end network complete with multi-band service tailored to meet specific U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) requirements. This network also includes terminals and ground infrastructure to the United States Army’s warfighters and decision makers from multiple locations across the globe – including sites in the U.S., its outlying territories and locations in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Performance on the program is based on delivering operational availability at the highest levels.
The Trojan Network effectively allows the United States Army to deploy mobile communications systems attached to vehicles – such as Humvees. These systems allow the two way communication of military intelligence information – such as voice, video and data – from decision makers and warfighters in the field to military leadership and intelligence officers back home. Trojan effectively connects all deployed Army personnel with the information and communication services they need to accomplish their military intelligence mission, while simultaneously delivering actionable insight back to senior level military leaders to help determine strategy.
While Trojan illustrates how the military relies on COMSATCOM to deliver bandwidth and communications to the tip of the spear quickly –wherever it may be, the Thule DS3 Program – which is run out of Thule Air Base – is an incredible example of how COMSATCOM can deliver similar services to locations whose conditions make the traditional, terrestrial networks difficult or impossible to implement. The Thule DS3 program provides missile warning, space surveillance and space control support to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Thule Air Base is located on the north west of Greenland, where the high temperatures rarely gets above freezing (32o F). In other words – it’s very cold. The base’s remote location, extreme conditions and three consecutive months without sunlight contribute to its lack and difficulty of build out of traditional communications infrastructure. As the military has become reliant on advanced technologies that require an ever-increasing amount of bandwidth – existing communications solutions simply weren’t capable of handling the base’s bandwidth requirements.
COMSATCOM solutions were implemented to overcome this lack of terrestrial connectivity while also overcoming unique challenges created by the base’s location – specifically, the base’s near-horizon location which creates an extremely low look angle, and orbital mechanics constraints.
These two networks are incredible examples of how today’s military truly relies on COMSATCOM providers to keep the warfighter connected, deliver the most up-to-date intelligence to military decision makers and ensure that every necessary application and system is available at any location. In our next post, we’ll take a deeper dive into what – specifically – the government looks for in a COMSATCOM provider to ensure these essential services are delivered.
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