Insights from the SIA DoD Commercial SATCOM Users’ Workshop

Last month, the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) held its 2012 DoD Commercial SATCOM Users’ Workshop, which brought together government leaders from the Department of Defense along with commercial satellite operators and manufacturers.

From operational SATCOM to mission assurance protection, terminal requirements and future commercial initiatives, the event covered a wide range of issues and challenges that confront the state of SATCOM and defense today.

For U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), commercial SATCOM is critical as existing systems in this region are not sufficient for manned or unmanned ISR, reinforcing the need for Ku solutions.   In addition, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), now requires commercial SATCOM resources that are portable to any part of the region and support UAV and comms-on-the-move efforts.

During the Mission Assurance Panel, which was moderated by Dr. John F. Plumb, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, the key topic was the vulnerability of U.S. communications capabilities to attack, reinforcing the need for prevention and retaliation strategies.

In addition, another theme was the growing need of the DoD for viable SATCOM solutions.  The U.S. Air Force is increasing the use of SATCOM to meet ISR needs, with assured access in all environmental conditions.  The U.S. Marines Corps is moving towards the use of tri-band terminals to access MILSATCOM and commercial SATCOM.  The U.S. Army needs more satellite power delivered to smaller terminals to meet the needs of its fragmented user base, while the U.S. Coast Guard needs streamlined solutions for supporting its aging fleet.

Kay Sears, President of Intelsat General, participated on a panel where she discussed the best ways for meeting the DoD’s SATCOM needs.  In particular, she highlighted how satellite operators must continue to invest in ground and space infrastructure, as the DoD cannot “do it all.”  In addition, she discussed how the commercial sector must always play a critical part in military communications, yet one that does not duplicate what the DoD is doing.

In terms of Intelsat General’s support for the DoD, the company, and its team of partners, delivers worldwide commercial telecommunications services to the U.S. Navy’s fleet of ships under the Commercial Broadband Satellite Program (CBSP).  It is also a leading supplier of global satellite services in support of UAVs in the ISR arena.

The annual DoD Commercial SATCOM Users’ Workshop is always the ideal forum for government and industry to gather to discuss the biggest issues and trends that face our sector.   This year’s event proved that commercial SATCOM solutions will continue being viable as new opportunities and challenges lie ahead.

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