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INCOMING: Milsat Moves

According to a recent Forecast International (FI) press release, the research firm projects that over the next decade, defense departments worldwide will invest some $30.6 billion on approximately 95 military satellites. The satellites to be developed and procured with this funding will range in size from large military satcoms, such as the Wideband Global Satcom and Advanced EHF, to the relatively small ELISA electronic intelligence satellite.

Further information from the Company’s latest informative release, The Market for Military Satellites, finds the U.S. military satellite dominating the market over the next decade, based on the country’s vast financial capabililties to meet the requirements anticipated for the transformational process. Plus, high-priority reconnaissance and defense programs are already underway within the United States. FI also expects the ongoing trend of consolidation of European nations’ satellite efforts, combined with increased military use of civil remote-sensing systems, will limit production opportunities in that region.

The analysis projects military satellite production in Europe, Japan, and Israel will account for 27 spacecraft, representing approximately 28.4 percent of the market covered in the report. In terms of value, production in those regions is expected to be worth $5.2 billion, or approximately 17 percent of market share.

Among notable indicators, in the United States, over $5 billion in military satellite production scheduled for the forecast period has yet to be contracted. Additionally, the massive GPS and Transformational Communications programs currently underway in the United States will provide a comparatively cushy fiscal pillow to fall back on during the current commercial downturn for local manufacturers such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.

“In terms of unit production within the United States, Lockheed Martin outpaces its competitors as the number one military satellite manufacturer in the world over the next 10 years,” said John Edwards, Forecast International senior analyst and author of the study. "Lockheed Martin is building the Advanced EHF constellation GPS III, the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System, and the SBIRS High system."

The United States enjoys an advantage in the military space arena second to none, according to the FI report, and accounts for nearly 90 percent of global military space spending. “This lack of balance in the world military satellite inventory and in military space capabilities as a whole is driving this dynamic market, and therefore the militarization of space will continue to be a vigorous and lucrative market.” Edwards said. Unlike the market for commercial systems, military markets are less exposed to risk when it comes to the ebb and tide of the consumer, which in this case is the military itself. “Therefore, manufacturers of these systems - especially in the United States - can look forward to a strong military satellite market over the next decade,” said Edwards.

The CEO of Globecomm, David Hershberg, reveals his firm has succeeded with a $23 Million U.S. contract with NATO to supply force tracking equipment. Additionally, Globecomm is one of six contractors selected to participate in the U.S. Army’s $5 Billion U.S. Worldwide Satellite Systems Program (WWSS). The Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Program jointly manage the WWSS out of offices located in Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey. “Globecomm will bring government agencies turnkey commercial satellite systems and associated support services for satellite terminals, including all hardware, software, field support services and technical information,” added David. The company is exploring the possibililty of an acquisition in Europe to increase their European sales.

Howard Hausman, the President of MITEQ, believes “The military satellite business continues to change, improving capability, reliability, and cost per bit. As an example, in the past few years major changes have occurred in the availability of L-band Modems, which, when employed, alter the configuration of the respective Satellite Earth Station. Interfacing with the L-band modem is a single conversion Block Frequency Converter instead of a dual conversion device. MITEQ produces both types of converters and continues to support our customers using either technology.

When asked about some of the advances this market segment could experience in the next year or so, Hausman replied, “The ability to adapt to flexible missions is a key necessity for successful military operations. To support these missions, companies such as ours are looking into integrated microwave subsystems and more compact packaging techniques for easier transportability and faster set up of Satellite Communications equipment.

There are the usual challenges to overcome. MITEQ’s CEO said, “Bureaucracy, time to deployment, and funding are challenges that must be overcome to meet the communication needs of the military, but the major challenge is sustaining an industrial capability in an increasingly competitive international market. Military forecasting, longer term contracts, and customer support will help our industry maintain a capability to react to changing military requirements.” MITEQ has made the commitment to maintain a flexible production capabilities while ensuring close communication with their customers to make their mission easier and more reliable.

Numerex’ satellite division, Orbit One, uses their satellite technologies for mission critical military and commercial applications, entering this market as resellers of commercial technologies. Their initial applications encompassed general field logistics capabilities, which quickly led to the development of tracking solutions specifically tailored to a variety of industries that ranged from cargo tracking to defense logistics.

Michael Maret, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the company, offered some insights into his company’s operations and plans.

“We launched the SX1 satellite tracking tag in September 2007 as a direct result of real world perspectives gained during our direct dealings with the emergency response and military industries. Building upon our commercially developed tracking device, we incorporated additional features to meet the highly specialized needs of disaster recovery organizations.

“The resulting device is now the most rugged available, carrying the highest environmental ratings of any satellite tracking device, with the ability to withstand the harshest conditions, whether water, heat or fire — all with the smallest footprint — 7.25 x 3.25 x 1 inch (184 x 83 x 25 mm) and weighing only 13 ounces (369 g).”

Agreeing with Howard Hausman, Michael added, “Time to deployment and funding are two key challenges to any new implementation in government agencies, and were the contributing factors we considered while developing the SX1. This solution can be installed, activated, and operational in less than one minute, with the ability to track and monitor any asset from continent to continent nearly instantly.

“Education on the need and value of new technologies is a challenge many organizations must overcome within the military and government entities.Decision makers now realize that new technology, processes, and solutions are a positive addition, offering them total visibility of their assets within their supply chain, and adoption rates are improving at a more impressive pace than in the recent past.”

Continuing along the “challenges that must be faced” theme, Michael adds, “The last major challenge we see is the lack of visibility into the ‘last mile’. Many organizations use RFID technology, but are still unable to view their assets through to the last mile of their destination. RFID is only accurate when the shipment/container is within the depot. Once the asset leaves the land-based infrastructure, communication and tracking is lost, presenting a major obstacle for military logisticians, as well as commercial supply chain operators. Satellite tracking tags like the SX1, are not limited by distance from readers like traditional RFID. Orbit One satellite tracking is the ‘where it is, not where it was’ technology.”

In taking a look at Numerex’ upcoming plans, Michael told us, “We are developing an upgrade to our satellite tracking solution that will allow our customers to monitor additional components including temperature, disturbance, and even the ability to send alerts if it senses unauthorized activity. And Numerex’ acquisition of Orbit One uniquely combined cellular with satellite solutions positioned Numerex as a single source for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. The ‘All-Terrain M2M™’ option of cellular and satellite solutions is an increasingly attractive alternative for customers who require the added reliability and dependability of a ‘back up’ satellite network. This revolutionary shift in the remote monitoring and asset tracking marketplace, which is traditionally limited to cellular networks, improves the reliability, effectiveness and efficiency of all future deployments.”

Intelligence Input
The complexities of the military satellite world can be confusing, due to the heavy reliance on acronyms, procurement policities, and bureaucracy. To make sense of these channels of operation, a number of seminars, sessions, conventions and trade shows specifically orient themselves to parsing this information to those interested in this expanding industry.

One such leading show happens to be the Global MilSatCom 2008, described as the European hub for Military Satellite Communications. The show is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year.

This is a great venue for assembling with leading milsatcom nations to discuss national developments, international cooperation and learn all about current operational challenges. Attend key presentations and determine which of your company’s solutions can provide our warfighters with the technological products required to ensure their missions are successful.

You’ll also be able to analyze the latest European, U.S., Astralian and UAE national programs to determine how best to supply their needs.

Other key areas include the ability to directly engage with decision makers and leaders from 20 countires... absorb information about the latest technological advances from industry leaders and then benchmark them against military ops experiences... learn about future technologies and how they will impact current ops... delve into policy frameworks and procurement strategies... and learn about Satcom on the Move as well as SatCom on the Halt.

There is a MOST impressive speaker list for this exposition...
  • Rear Admiral Victor C. See, Jr, USN Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Space Field Activity (SPAWAR) and Director, Communications Systems Acquisition and Operations Directorate (COMM), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and Program Executive Officer (PEO) Space System, Department Of The Navy
  • Lieutenant General Pietro Finocchio, General Director, General Directorate for Telecommunications, IT and Advanced Technologies, Ministry of Defence, Italy
  • Brigadier (Ret’d) Tim Waugh, CBE SATCOM and Deployable CIS Team Leader, NATOC3 Agency
  • Brigadier General Ian Fordred, Director, Information Communication Technology (DICT) in the Command and Management Information Systems Division (CMIS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF)
  • Commodore Eric Fraser RN, Assistant Chief of Staff J6, UK Permanent JointHeadquarters
  • Colonel Patrick H. Rayermann, Chief, Communications Functional Integration Office, National Security Space Office, Pentagon
  • Colonel Robert Champagne, Head of CIS Branch, Canada Operational Support Command (CANOSCOM), Department of Defence, Canada
  • Peter Kerr, Head, Satellite Communications Discipline, C3I Division, Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), Australia
  • Lieutenant Colonel Flemming Agerskov, Head, CIS Branch, Army Operational Command, Denmark
  • Michael Pascaud, Syracuse III Program Manager, DGA, Ministry of Defence, France Commander Alexandre Baillot, Military & Civil SatCom Leader, Space & Joint Systems Division, French Joint Staff
  • Major Dr. Eng. Mohamed N. Mubarek Alahbabi, Information Communication Technology (ICT) Advisor, General Headquarters, United Arab Emirates
  • Armed Forces Commander Chris Cheesman RN, Capability Team Leader, DEC CCII, Ministry of Defence, UK
  • Dr. Oystein Olsen, Principal Scientist, Communication Information Technology Systems, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment
Global MilSatCom will also be presenting associated events, such as Understanding Ku- and Ka-band and SATCOM-on-the-Move Antenna Systems. If the success of SMI’s 2007 exhibition is any indication, MilSatCom 2008 will be bigger and better! Select the conference logo for further details.

I have compiled more information on a number of conferences occuring this year that possess a MilSatCom focus — this content may be read in a later article in this issue of MilsatMagazine.

A number of news items highly relevant to those in the milsatcom industry appeared in our daily SatNews offerings. Offered are the headlines and short inclusions of the items, with a direct link to the story in SatNews for your further edification. Simply select the first sentence to travel to the story. News items are presented in alphabetical order...