C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

USMC eyes enhanced comms for the Arctic

09 November 2017
A US Marine operates a SATCOM system in the Arctic. Source: USMC

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is identifying means to optimise its satellite communications (SATCOM) capacity in the Arctic, as it seeks to extend the capabilities of force components in the High North.

Speaking at the SMi Global MilSatCom conference in London on 8 November, a senior service official described how the USMC is planning to cement SATCOM in its basic level of service, extend SATCOM capabilities and integrate future technology to augment existing capacity over the next several years.

The news comes at a time when the armed forces from multiple countries – including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States – continue to build up skill sets required to operate effectively in the Arctic.

Addressing delegates, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Myers, Deputy G-6, USMC Forces Europe and Africa, reflected the service’s desire to become more proficient in cold weather and mountain operations, “This is something we have not done over the last decade,” he said, while highlighting how SATCOM remained a key enabler in the execution of the USMC’s crisis response mission set.

Currently, the USMC’s SATCOM inventory includes the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Family of Systems, which comprises small (VSAT-S), medium (VSAT-M), and large (VSAT-L) antenna variants. Operating across Ku-, Ka-, and X-bands, the VSAT solutions provide USMC force components with beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) connectivity to “support interdependent battalion/squadron level data communications including NIPRNET [Non-Secure Internet Protocol Router Network], SIPRNET [Secret Internet Protocol Router Network], secure and unsecure telephony”, according to USMC literature.

The most recent addition to the VSAT family is the Expeditionary (VSAT-E) variant, which provides reachback for Marine Expeditionary Forces to headquarters elements via a Consolidated Base Station (CBS).

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