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ViaSat makes inroads in advanced satcom with UK, US armed forces

Satellite communications (satcom) company ViaSat has made significant inroads in supporting space-based networked communication capabilities within the UK and US armed forces.

ViaSat officials secured a USD9.4 million (GBP6.7million) contract with European aeronautics giant Airbus to upgrade the company’s Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satcom network control stations, which support Airbus’ Skynet UHF geostationary transit orbit satellite constellation fielded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). The upgrade work by ViaSat will focus on the integration of the company’s Visual Integrated Satellite communications Information, Operation and Networking (VISION) software platform into the Skynet network control stations, according to a company statement.

The upgrades will allow MoD to bring the stations into compliance with the US Department of Defense’s Integrated Waveform Phase 2 (IW Phase 2) requirements, the statement added.

A fixed-station UHF radio satellite communications installation. (ViaSat )

A fixed-station UHF radio satellite communications installation. (ViaSat)

“The UHF upgrade, incorporating our VISION software, is key to providing increased mission effectiveness by rapidly expanding the Skynet capability to UK MoD and allied forces,” said Steve Beeching, managing director of ViaSat’s UK division. “With VISION, the network operators will gain more assured, reliable, real-time communications capabilities to reconfigure UHF satellite networks to meet new tactical profiles as battlefield and warfighter requirements dynamically expand and contract,” he added.

In support of the IW Phase 2 requirements, ViaSat’s VISION programme will upgrade both “pre-planned demand-assigned and ad-hoc service types” associated with the Skynet control stations to “increase channel efficiency to meet end-user requirements”, company officials said in the statement. The decision to integrate the VISION system into the ground control stations allows UK defence officials to forgo UHF upgrades to the actual Skynet satellite constellations in orbit, resulting in cost savings to the programme.

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