U.S. defense leaders are looking at commercial providers to help the Pentagon meet the tremendous demand for satellite communications capacity in the Asia-Pacific region.
The U.S. military is also aiming to strengthen alliances with Japan and Australia in order to help it cover the vast Pacific Ocean. As Col. Alan Rebholz (pictured), Chief of the Air Force Space Operations Division, highlighted in this National Defense article, the large expanse of the ocean creates a “tyranny of distance” for many militaries in the region – complicating the need to protect U.S. capabilities of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance by satellite.
In addition, as Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) Chief Gen. William Shelton noted recently, there isn’t nearly enough U.S. government satcom capacity in the region and the Air Force is currently studying how to best use commercial satellite capacity to meet demand for communications bandwidth.
For many years, the Air Force has leased COMSATCOM capacity from operators on a spot-market basis, which can be costly due to higher rates for last-minute procurements. Intelsat General has pushed the Air Force to develop a comprehensive plan for procuring COMSATCOM capabilities so it and other commercial operators may know when and where services are truly needed.
To meet this challenge, Rebholz suggested changes in policy to enable the services to interact and take full advantage of what commercial space service companies have to offer.
With the Department of Defense looking at the long-term importance of the Asia-Pacific region, leveraging the right commercial solutions will help the U.S. military meet satellite capacity there. In addition, with the right planning, the Air Force could leverage long-term commercial procurements that are more cost-effective and strategic than spot market buying.
To read more about the commercial satellite industry’s recommendations for more efficient acquisition of satcom please click here for our Seven Better Buying Tips for SATCOM, published in 2013.