Eyes in the sky – today’s military SATCOM
December 2, 2021
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  • Satellite communications (SATCOM) literally expanded humanity’s horizons, enabling ships, aircraft, and land vehicles to communicate over the curve of the Earth. With thousands of communications satellites in the sky today a lot has changed since their advent, as the technology is continuing to move forward. Meanwhile, U.S. military and government decisions makers are trying to increase on-orbit interoperability, Megan Crouse reports for Military & Aerospace Electronics. Continue reading original article.

    The Intelligent Aerospace take:

    December 2, 2021 – Satellite communications enable an aircraft to communicate via satellite with air traffic control and other ground-based facilities while in the air. It can include voice and ground service, and unlike very high frequency (VHF) terrestrial radio stations or conventional ground radar, can operate beyond line of sight.

    In the commercial world, people are looking to SATCOM for improved air traffic control, which could enable more planes to fly safety in the same airspace at the same time; more efficient routing; and tailored arrivals to negate the need for inefficient step descents, which has been trialed at airports in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    “With the arrival of internet protocol (IP)-based applications and new data-hungry cockpits, SATCOM will deliver critical safety data as well as improve operational performance for today’s commercial and military aircraft fleets. The potential to enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel is almost unlimited,” stated Mary McMillan, vice president of safety and operational services at Inmarsat Aviation in London, in a 2017 Inmarsat report.

    While this is still relevant background information, military applications in 2021 are part of a slightly different conversation. Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., are looking at new ways to connect satellites. In September 2021, they issued a solicitation for a reconfigurable multi-protocol intersatellite optical communications terminal. Specifically, they’re looking for two technical areas of the Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN) project, one of the two major DARPA projects in this area today.