News Releases

Intelsat General and General Atomics Demonstrate a Path Forward for Reaper and Predator UAS to Fly Confidently with Intelsat EpicNG Beam Switching

November 15, 2017

McLean, VA

Intelsat General, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intelsat (NYSE: I), operator of the world’s first Globalized Network, today announced that it had successfully demonstrated beam switching capabilities of an in-flight unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operating on the company’s Intelsat 29e satellite.

The tests validated the compatibility of the Intelsat EpicNG platform with the newly developed beam switching capability of the Block 5 Predator® B/MQ-9 from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI). This is the first in-flight switch of an MQ-9 on an HTS satellite. Beam switching is particularly important for U.S. and allied military forces looking to expand UAS operations to high performance, multiple-spot beam, high-throughput satellites such as Intelsat EpicNG.

The multiple spot beam design inherent in high-throughput satellites like the Intelsat EpicNG system substantially increase the satellite’s throughput, allows for the use of much smaller antennas, higher performance from existing antennas, and enhances the security on the satellite over traditional wide beam satellites. This same design also requires that mobility applications across large geographic areas must traverse multiple spot beams on the satellite.

These results, verified by General Atomics, demonstrate a path forward for deployed Reaper and Predator UAS to fly confidently on Intelsat EpicNG, including the additional benefits of higher throughput capabilities, extensive footprint and enhanced resilience.

“The images and other data collected by unmanned aircraft systems are critical for many military operations,” said Skot Butler, President of Intelsat General Corporation. “These tests demonstrate the capability of the high-throughput Intelsat EpicNG platform to support aircraft as they travel long distances across multiple spot beams.”