Commercial satellite capacity has proven its reliability over the last decade of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and Africa, and is increasingly being considered as a centerpiece of the Pentagon’s future strategy. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is now considering the best approach for the future to ensure that it can meet increasingly varied and ever-evolving satellite communications needs across the global geo-political landscape. The DoD faces two issues: First, how to leverage its existing investments in both commercial and government-owned ground and spacecraft infrastructure, given that the current constrained budgetary climate of the federal government is likely to be a mainstay; and second, how to meet the warfighter’s need for increasingly higher connectivity while also providing enhanced features such as flexibility, portability, connectivity, and information assurance. The answer lies in the Ku-band, that portion of the satellite spectrum that has the most diverse usage across land, air and sea-based applications. The Ku-band is:
- The most versatile for DoD combat commands, services and agencies across land, air and sea.
- Suited for large ground satellite dishes, small aircraft antennas, and every size in between.
- Proven to work well when other bandwidths succumb to rain-fade.
- Has the largest deployed terminal infrastructure and usage within the DoD. (7134 MHz at Ku in 2010, last publicly released figures by DISA – more than 10 times usage in each of the other bands (C, X, Ka)
- Has the largest commercial satellite fleet-availability world-wide across all satellite operators, maximizing the likelihood that portability and surge requirements can be met when needed.
- Provides dramatic terminal throughput enhancement from increased link efficiencies (Mbps/MHz).
- Supports migration from mobile satellite services (MSS) to broadband fixed satellite services (FSS).
- Compatible with a range of multi-media, on-the-move applications.
- Addresses current and expected areas of operations and surge.
- Compatible with customer-defined network concept of operations.
- Supports broadcast or multicast imagery dissemination.
- Offers full data-path agility with the IntelsatOne ground network or with customer sanctuary gateways.
- Delivers guaranteed access to capacity for mission-critical applications.
- Compliant with information assurance standards for resilience.
- Provides enhanced quality-assurance surveillance capabilities.
Staying with the Ku-band keeps the DoD’s largest existing terminal infrastructure investment both relevant and future-proof. Continuing to use the Ku-band focuses the DoD’s resources on getting more out of systems that are already in-place and are battle-proven. Finally, using the Ku-band allows the DoD to tap into the most widely deployed satellite band and to take advantage of its inherent, large-scale market economics. In short, the Ku-band – the DoD’s current satellite communications band of choice – has served the government well and is poised to deliver the future.