Commercial X-Band managed Services the key to on-demand resilient comms At a recent Mitchell Spaceflight Institute Spacepower Forum, the Chief of Space Operations for the U.S. Space Force, Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, explained that 2022 would be the year that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), “…will begin our pivot significantly to a resilient architecture…” Gen. Raymond also explained his intention to shift the U.S. satellite architecture from “… a handful of exquisite capabilities that are very hard to defend to a more robust, more resilient architecture by design.”
But why is there such a significant focus on satellite architecture resiliency that it’s one of the U.S. Space Force’s largest priorities for the coming year? One only has to look at some of the recent events involving satellite communications in Europe for an answer.
Today’s advanced military platforms and systems are all network and software enabled. These systems require connectivity to function as intended and meet warfighter requirements. And satellite is the best way to provide that connectivity in geographic locations where terrestrial networks are either denied, degraded, untrusted, or insecure — like many of the places where the military operates.
But satellite communications (SATCOM) deliver more than advanced IT capabilities to the warfighter. SATCOM is instrumental for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and situational awareness (SA). It’s also the main conduit for basic communications services in austere environments.
By distributing military signals over a wide ecosystem of military and commercial satellite resources, it becomes incredibly difficult for adversaries to identify which satellites are carrying military communications and deny them through jamming or kinetic attack.
The near-peer adversaries that America and its coalition partners are confronted with today know that satellite is fundamental and mission-critical for so many military operations — they’ll do anything to deny access to the satellite services that are both a basic necessity and a force-multiplier.
We’ve seen this play out in real-time in the current situation in Eastern Europe. As fighting began, one of the first casualties was connectivity and communications from terrestrial networks. Then, the satellite service that was used to fill that communications void was almost immediately denied by the adversary.
Regardless of whether this communications disruption was meant to hinder military communications, capabilities, and coordination — or simply to cause confusion and a lack of reliable information for civilians — is secondary. It is evidence that denying SATCOM networks and infrastructure is now a large part of warfare — and will remain so into the future. This is why the military now considers space an austere environment and a warfighting domain.
Augmenting military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) with commercial satellite communications (COMSATCOM) has long been considered a solution for increasing resiliency. By distributing military signals over a wide ecosystem of military and commercial satellite resources, it becomes incredibly difficult for adversaries to identify which satellites are carrying military communications and deny them through jamming or kinetic attack.
SES GS, Network Innovations, and GovSat,
a public-private joint venture
between the Government of Luxembourg and SES,
recently announced that the organizations would be partnering to
introduce tactiXs, a new X-band and military Ka-band
volume-based managed service that will make
mission-specific, military-band satellite capabilities
available to the U.S. Government and its Alliance partners.
Today’s advanced military platforms and systems are all network and software enabled. These systems require connectivity to function as intended and meet warfighter requirements — satellite is the best way to provide that connectivity.
But what about coalition partners and allied nations with no readily available, purpose-built, MILSATCOM architecture? How can they get immediate access to resilient, military-grade satellite communications should a threat arise? These are exactly the types of situations that a new generation of commercial X-band satellite solutions was made for.
X-Band on demand
X-band and military Ka-band satellite communications have long been trusted by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) because of their reliability and resilience. As Patti Aston, a Senior Director at SES Government Solutions, recently explained to the Government Satellite Report, “…X-band [is] considered more reliable – or more mission-assured for critical operations. And when the lives of tactical operators and warfighters are on the line, the military doesn’t want to take the chance that there could be interference or signal loss.”
Access to commercially-delivered X-band and military Ka-band satellite capacity has increased more recently with the introduction of services such as tactiXs — an end-to-end, managed service that delivers secure, non-preemptible, X-band capabilities to customers on an on-demand basis.
U.S. Marines set up a satellite dish at Joliet Army Training
Area in Elwood, Illinois. (Photo by: Marine Corps Lance
Cpl. Preston Morris. The appearance of U.S. Department of
Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or
constitute DoD endorsement.
These managed services enable governments and militaries without existing, purpose-built, military satellite resources to quickly and easily gain access to resilient, reliable X-band and military Ka-band satellite communications at a moment’s notice. There is no special or proprietary hardware necessary to access the service and no ground infrastructure necessary. COTS X-band terminals are used to gain access. Governments and militaries can simply acquire the satellite services they need — for a specified period of time or for a prescribed amount of data throughput — and begin using them immediately.
The near-peer adversaries that America and its coalition partners are confronted with today know that satellite is fundamental and mission-critical for so many military operations. And they’ll do anything to deny access to the satellite services that are both basic necessity and force-multiplier.
“[tactiXs] gives the military user tremendous flexibility and agility. They now have on- demand access to X-band capabilities on an as-needed basis. And they don’t have to buy the capacity on a long-term basis,” Aston explained. “Since [tactiXs] is a managed service, they also don’t have to provide the ground infrastructure. The ground stations and teleports – everything necessary to enable access – is provided for them.”
Resilient SATCOM is as essential to today’s military as any weapons system or platform being issued to — or deployed with — the warfighter. It provides the connectivity for next-generation, network-enabled systems. It enables ISR and situational awareness. It becomes the backbone of even the most basic of communications services when terrestrial networks are denied.
Commercial X-band managed services can ensure that the connectivity governments and militaries need is available immediately. They also can deliver the resiliency and reliability necessary for mission-critical communications.
For additional information on tactiXs, select this direct infolink...
This article first on GovSat and is reprinted with permission from SES GS and Government Satellite Report.
Ryan Schradin is the Executive Editor of GovSat Report. A communications expert and journalist with more than a decade of experience, Ryan has edited and contributed to multiple popular online trade publications focused on government technology, satellite, unified communications and network infrastructure. His work includes editing and writing for the GovSat Report, The Modern Network, Public Sector View, and Cloud Sprawl. His work for the GovSat Report includes editing content, establishing editorial direction, contributing articles about satellite news and trends, and conducting both written and podcast interviews. Ryan also contributes to the publication’s industry event and conference coverage, providing in-depth reporting from leading satellite shows.