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Army eyes commercial megaconstellations to support its future battlefield network

15 Oct 2019, 23:07 UTC
Army eyes commercial megaconstellations to support its future battlefield network
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WASHINGTON — Under the latest Army plan to equip forces with reliable and super fast communications, officials see an opportunity to buy commercial broadband services from constellations in low and medium orbits.
The Army currently uses a mix of commercial and government-provided bandwidth from satellites in geosynchronous orbit. But the connectivity from those satellites is expensive and likely to be insufficient to meet the Army’s future needs for combat operations, said Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, director of the Army Futures Command’s Network Cross Functional Team.
Speaking Oct. 15 at a news conference during the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference, Gallagher said the goal is to provide soldiers with multiple options to get bandwidth in the field, including both satellite-based and terrestrial communications. He said the Army will seek alternatives to current satellite communications provided by GEO systems.
The problem today is both insufficient capacity and high latency in satellite links, said Gallagher.
Gallagher previously ran communications and information systems at U.S. Central Command and saw first-hand the difficulties that forces in the field experience because of inadequate connectivity.
“There’s a heavy reliance on commercial satcom and a good mix of military and commercial satellites,” he said. “Almost everything ...

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