For the 20th consecutive year, Leonardo DRS has maintained its position as the #1 SATCOM integrator for the U.S. Department of Defense. As a leader in satellite-based Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for defense, intelligence, and federal/civil markets, Leonardo DRS provides tailored end-to-end global satellite communications, fiber and wireless terrestrial back-haul, managed network services, cybersecurity, network operations, and enterprise IT for mission-critical, no-fail solutions.
Leonardo DRS has continued as the industry leader in 2020 by focusing on customer success. This includes its logical approach to complete ICT system integration, its unwavering dedication to fulfilling mission requirements, its pursuit of innovation, and its commitment to providing best value solutions.
2020: A Year of Growth Despite Global Challenges
Throughout 2020, Leonardo DRS continued its culture of excellence while positioning the business to take advantage of opportunities and setting customers up for success in the coming decade. Its long-standing industry relationships, extensive product and service knowledge, team of experts, and commitment to innovation, quality, and excellence are the driving forces that keep Leonardo DRS delivering transformational solutions to its customer’s year over year.
With this foundation of customer-centric quality in operations and service delivery, Leonardo DRS’ significant achievements in 2020 include:
Expansion of the Leonardo DRS ICT
Ecosystem’s capabilities: Because SATCOM customers need their devices, terminals, and systems to work anywhere at any time, they require a no-fail solutions approach. This is where an ICT integrator like Leonardo DRS is needed to facilitate the highest levels of system confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Over the past year the company has expanded its ICT Ecosystem network by:
• Adding the Inmarsat Global Xpress service to provide customers with global, mobile, and broadband connectivity
• Increasing ISR capabilities by integrating geospatial intelligence satellites and analytic services with eGEOS, the global distributor for one of the largest and most advanced radar satellite constellations available today.
• Integrating Inmarsat L-Band Tactical services for radio agnostic and transparent voice and data beyond-line-of-sight communications
• Introducing electronically steerable antenna solutions for low profile communications-on-the-move applications
• Implementing software defined networks for increased security and resiliency
• Extending the terrestrial reach of their Global Communications Network to Northeast Asia
• Launching the Leonardo DRS ICT Portal for customer monitoring of their entire network
Through this ICT Ecosystem, Leonardo DRS offers a shared services platform, which has significant advantages in reducing costs to their customers, improving security services, and introducing new technologies and services with dedicated technical and support resources.
Introduction of the Leonardo DRS ICT Portal
The ICT Portal offers a consolidated view of management and operations so customers can see in near-real time how the network and the personnel managing the network are performing. Portals are designed around each customer’s needs, but can include views into trouble ticket status, network status down to the end-user device, performance metrics, status of projects or upgrades, and status of personnel critical to managing the network.
Each customer portal can also provide visibility into cost accounting, to ensure a program is operating within budget. The company’s customer portals comply with NIST security standards and Risk Management Framework (RMF) to meet customer requirements.
The Leonardo DRS ICT Portal uses the same agnostic and holistic approach that the ICT Ecosystem is engineered with, providing customers a comprehensive and flexible monitoring and reporting solution. Customers now have the advantage of not only having a single source for managing, operating, and troubleshooting the network from end-to-end, they have a single window where they can see the network for themselves in near-real time.
This gives military customers a tremendous advantage, allowing them the information to control decision-making in the fast-paced environments in which they operate. Such a customer portal becomes not just a source of information, but an invaluable tool in decision-making.
Successfully maintaining continuity of operations during COVID-19 restrictions
Leonardo DRS transitioned a major Department of Defense (DoD) SATCOM contract from Government Furnished Equipment to Contractor Furnished Equipment (CFE) at six global teleports in 90 days, well ahead of the 120-day requirement. Not only did this require a detailed listing of CFE, it also required the addition of a new commercial teleport in support of a new space segment solution. In
spite of COVID-19’s impact on travel, the Leonardo DRS team also successfully completed a technology refresh of close to 5,000 satellite user terminals in less than two months.
2021: Positioning for a Decade of Massive Growth and Technological Advances
The next ten years will see major changes in the communications world, in terms of both offerings and risks. Leonardo DRS intends to position itself to take advantage of these changes and to maintain the technological edge of their customers through the following initiatives in 2021
Augmenting the ICT Ecosystem with Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites
Leonardo DRS is collaborating with partners rolling out LEO offerings to their customers, which will yield great value in both the cost and throughput capabilities of COMSATCOM.
With an eye to the future, the company is exploring burgeoning possibilities of integrating LEO satellites into its ICT Ecosystem by establishing new research partnerships with the major LEO satellite operators. The company is also working with LEO providers to develop host nations agreements and to obtain frequency clearances, landing rights, service management, and field services in order to support the massive terrestrial network required by the LEO constellations.
Integrating LEO, 5G, and Internet of Things (IoT)
There will soon be 30 billion devices and 50 billion machines online. This essentially means everyone, and every “thing” will be connected, across every geography, supporting every application from consumer broadband, mobile gaming, and connected cars to global business networks, ships, planes, soldiers, first responders, and connected farms.
To connect tens of billions of users and things, there has to be a system that has high capacity and high throughput, which is where 5G comes in. 5G is far more than just a faster version of the 4G/LTE standard; 5G is a “network of networks” and defines a new and common network architecture, which all access technologies can adhere to.
When integrated with LEO’s high capacity and lower latency capabilities, 5G’s high-speed, high-capacity, and ultra-low latency capabilities will dramatically change how two systems can interoperate to carry huge communication loads, including IoT. Leonardo DRS is collaborating with leaders in these fields and is poised to make a major difference in the integration of these revolutionary technologies in 2021.
Completing their Centralized Operational Excellence Initiative
Leonardo DRS has begun a formal initiative to further improve their process functions and follow best practices with utmost customer focus. Performing with excellence has always been at the heart of the Leonardo DRS strategy. Their wide spectrum of contracts, products, and services to various customers, branches of DoD, and Government result in varied expectations from their customers.
In 2021, multiple focus teams will complete work on developing common and standardized practices such as new product development, performance metrics, and program management across all Leonardo DRS business units. For Leonardo DRS, Operational Excellence not only means utmost quality and service, but also a culture of creativity, inclusivity, and integrity, which in turn leads to their customers’ success.
Leonardo DRS is dedicated to supporting the military by delivering a “no-fail” ICT Ecosystem with the objective of ensuring all operations are reliable, resilient, and secure. Achievement of this objective is based on a commitment to building in multiple redundancies to ensure automatic alternate routes are always available and that data reaches its endpoint securely and uncorrupted.
The company’s Global Communications Network’s massive terrestrial infrastructure assures customers that Leonardo DRS’ network is scalable and meets the most demanding network service requirements, currently and through the future, which is a direct result of its singular pursuit for operations excellence.
Author Gus Anderson served in the U.S. Army for 29 years as a Telecommunications Corps officer. During that period, he commanded numerous tactical and strategic communications organizations, to include the 509th Signal Battalion, Vicenza, Italy, and the Regional Signal Group SHAPE, NATO HQ (Belgium). He retired as a Colonel in 2008.
Currently, Gus Anderson leads the Leonardo DRS Global Enterprise Solutions business development organization, helping grow customer and market understanding of the Leonardo DRS Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ecosystem — a global network that provides secure managed satellite and terrestrial services to major DoD, US Federal, and international agencies.
Leonardo DRS provides tailored, end-to-end, global satellite communications, fiber and wireless terrestrial back-haul, managed network services, cybersecurity, network operations, and enterprise IT for mission-critical, no-fail solutions.