Innovation and interoperability: a new era of partnership with the U.S. Government

May 30, 2023 Blog

By Steve Gizinski, President, Inmarsat Government

(Note to readers: This is the first of a blog series about how Inmarsat Government solutions are enabling mission success for U.S. Government customers.)

USSF has embraced partnerships to succeed

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From the beginning, the U.S. Space Force (USSF) has embraced the need for  industry innovation to meet the USSF vision for satellite communications described in the USSF 23 January 2020 United States Space Force Vision for Satellite Communications (SATCOM) document.

In his “Lines of Effort” memorandum released earlier this year, Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations, USSF, wrote that the Space Force will not succeed “without robust joint, coalition, international, interagency, academic, and commercial partnerships” which represent “a deeper relationship built on trust and mutual benefit that ensures cooperation will continue.”

Outside of the USSF, there are also new, promising initiatives such as the Hybrid Space Architecture (HSA) project – an “Internet of Space” that will integrate commercial and government capabilities to form an “agile and resilient communications architecture.” This architecture is intended to establish operational and informational security while encouraging collaboration among services, along with allies and partners.

Subsequently, a consensus is emerging about what is required and where the partnership needs to go, including:

  • The highest-level of data transport resiliency to dynamically counter sophisticated adversarial threats, ensuring ‘certain’ communications. This will come partially from the commercial sector’s ability to combine innovative, multi-orbit, multi-frequency and multi-service-based SATCOM in an effective manner and at very affordable price points.
  • Operational flexibility to provide customers scalable options whether the mission is permissive in nature or when facing a sophisticated adversary.

At Inmarsat Government, our capabilities start with the ability to complement UHF military SATCOM narrowband needs and then scale up with more data throughput according to demand via our multi-band, multi-orbit global (GEO, soon HEO) satellite constellations, which have served the Department of Defense (DoD) for decades.

Inmarsat services provide our customers with multiple frequency bands of operation, the ability for users to leverage a “bring your own modem and associated waveforms” approach. We enable interoperability with military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) systems such as Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) or narrowband UHF SATCOM leveraging already  fielded radios.

Customers use our solutions for core functions while seamlessly integrating with MILSATCOM to address any remaining gaps for optimal flexibility, redundancy, diversity, protection, scalability and global portability – the ultimate resiliency approach. This frees operators from administering dissimilar networks so they can focus on the mission

Innovations that Complement Military SATCOM Capabilities

Today, we engineer global, multi-band spacecraft with diverse capabilities from the most constrained DoD requirements up to very high bandwidth needs associated with a division-level Tactical Operations Center (TOC). We offer SATCOM as a Service that is both cost effective and flexible, so our customers can leverage unique waveforms as the mission progresses from permissive to contested environments.

Our interoperability-focused innovations include:

  • G-MODMAN II modem manager enables interoperability between systems. It seamlessly integrates with existing antenna systems, and supports the implementation of the current and future generation of Global Xpress services and aero terminals across aviation platforms.G-MODMAN Open Platform (OP) further expands upon the G-MODMAN II interoperable functionality by seamlessly switching between Global Xpress, Inmarsat’s steerable beams and the government’s Wideband Global SATCOM system (WGS). As a result, customers obtain always-on availability, capacity, coverage and capability for mission operations.
  • Inmarsat Global Xpress includes Military (Mil) Ka-band steerable beams that are interoperable with the WGS system. The ability to combine our affordable commercial service and steerable beam technology means DoD users roam seamlessly between commercial Mil Ka-band and WGS, increasing capabilities and flexibility.
  • We demonstrated how the government user can successfully leverage our Mil Ka-band steerable beam technology to operate its Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW). It ultimately paved a path for the DoD to roam from a standard commercial satellite service offering (Global Xpress) to PTW.
  • The Black ICE Software Defined Radio (SDR) platform supports customer-approved special waveforms and accommodates them on Inmarsat’s ELERA L-band and Global Xpress Ka-band networks, complementing U.S. Government resources. It allows for flexible waveform integration in a low-SWaP solution. Additionally, it meets challenging terminal form factor and performance requirements for beyond line of sight (BLOS) communications on UAS and manned platforms, as well as expeditionary Command and Control (C2).
  • Our Black ICE SDR-enabled DarkHorse capability provides a low RF signature service using special waveforms. The customer connects to this service using a Black ICE LITE Modem and a Mil Ka-band Type Approved user terminal.
  • With Inmarsat’s L-band Tactical Satellite Service (L-TAC), DoD customers use government-owned UHF and Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) SATCOM while ensuring they have access to narrowband SATCOM globally when military UHF SATCOM may not be available. The latest L-TAC advancements allow global on-demand connectivity and rapid, responsive service activation, so user nets can broadcast anywhere in the world over an IP connection.

At Inmarsat, our vision aligns with that of the USSF – to innovate together toward an integrated air, space and ground communications architecture that supports worldwide, multi-service operations and an enterprise network management system for situational awareness and control.

We will continue to pursue these initiatives to deliver massive amounts of capacity, flexibility and data security anywhere in the world, with the reliability and availability that proves critical to the mission.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you achieve optimal SATCOM performance, then please contact us.