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On the water and in the air, Hughes SATCOM solutions power military communications on the move for India
Hughes Communications India Ltd (HCIL) was selected for two key military-based agreements, building momentum across the defense sector and helping to ensure state-ofthe-art communications for India’s armed forces. First, Hughes will provide a high-performance satellite broadband system for India’s Naval Communication Network (NCN), which will power broadband services across the Navy’s mainland and island sites. Second, in a significant teaming agreement, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a state-owned aerospace and defense company, together with Hughes will provide SATCOM solutions for helicopters under India’s Ministry of Defence.
Sterlite Tech, a global data network solutions company and the systems integrator for the Indian Navy’s digital network, chose the Hughes systems to deliver C- and Ku-band satellite services as part of its hybrid IP-MPLS network. Designed and optimized for carrier-grade IP broadband networking and specialized applications, the Hughes ground system scales from hundreds to thousands of high-performance remote terminals.
“With Hughes advanced global satellite systems, we will bring in ease-of-network management through seamless connectivity even in tough and remote island terrains for the Indian Navy, boosting national security,” said KS Rao, CEO, Telecom Services Business, Sterlite Tech.
For India’s Ministry of Defence, BEL and Hughes will develop SATCOM solutions for helicopters, enabling BLoS links for real-time and assured communications using Ku-band satellites. In India, BEL is a well-known public sector enterprise with expertise in the design, development, engineering and manufacture of strategic defense, radar and weapon SATCOM systems.
“We are proud to have been awarded these critical communications infrastructure projects,” said Shivaji Chatterjee, senior vice president and head of Enterprise Business, HCIL. “They are a testament to our in-country record of delivering leading technology solutions and supporting homeland security. Our military will benefit from improved voice, video, and data experiences across fixed and mobile sites, and secure real-time communications in the air environment.”
Solutions to support unmanned aircraft and autonomous, heavy-lift rotary platforms–for military applications and more
Aircraft design and mission objectives dictate the requirements of any mobile SATCOM system. One prevailing challenge for military operations is Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLoS) communications. Airborne platforms can leverage local line-of-sight BLoS Airborne SATCOM Systems microwave links where infrastructure is available, but when it’s not, or when it’s blocked by mountains or buildings, SATCOM plays a critical role in connecting aircraft. Small, lightweight BLoS satellite systems are imperative in these scenarios.
Meeting Demands for Group 3 UAS
Recently, a full-service provider for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), selected Hughes to integrate BLoS SATCOM systems into its Group 3 UAS. Group 3 UAS are smaller and lighter than more well-known Group 4 UAS and are gaining in popularity due to their inherent ability to perform extended in-flight operations ranging from 8 to 12+ hours. This aircraft was designed for Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) without a runway, offering new options for operating in challenging conditions, including maritime operations.
What makes Group 3 UAS ideal in unpredictable conditions is what also makes it difficult to deliver airborne communications. First, its smaller size presents a challenge by requiring extremely small and lightweight hardware to prevent weighing down the aircraft. Using heavier equipment can limit operational flight time because of more frequent refueling. The second challenge is that the rotor blades on vertical lift aircraft can disrupt the satellite signal and require complex waveform enhancements to maintain the transmission.
Hughes was selected to deliver and support a SATCOM solution for real-time communications capabilities, data transfers and multiple protocols. Hughes will integrate small and lightweight modular system components to help minimize any impact to the aircraft’s flight abilities. Combined, the modular technologies create a low-SWaP system, which is mission-critical to maximizing operational flight times for national security and military applications.
“Hughes has been selected to integrate small, lightweight SATCOM systems for the emerging, smaller Group 3 UAS based on the team’s expertise in supporting various airborne platforms,” said Tim Doyle, senior products director of HM Systems at Hughes. “Our engineers continue to deliver innovative aeronautical SATCOM systems, including enhanced terminal and network configurations for reliable Beyond-Line-of-Sight communications.”
BLoS Solutions—Not Just for Military Applications
Military operations are not the only ones that demand BLoS solutions. For a new customer in the aviation and aeronautics research field, Hughes will deliver the HeloSat™ solution to provide enhanced BLoS for their autonomous, heavy-lift rotary platform, a converted UH-1H helicopter. A lightweight and powerful SATCOM system, HeloSat leverages a Hughes-patented waveform technology for through-the-blades transmissions on rotary-wing aircraft. Using the softwaredefinable HM Series modems will deliver high-throughput data rates to enable live video streaming from the aircraft. The Hughes solution was selected to improve situational awareness for the aircraft operators working on various missions, which could include oil rig supply, airborne medical transport, firefighting, disaster recovery and military applications.
Initial tests for this platform were conducted during a military program in 2017. This testing, as well as a more recent milestone resupplying cargo to Marines in an integrated training exercise in California, showcased the completely autonomous capability of the UH-1H for missions in operational environments. To ensure delivery of more precise and accurate situational awareness, Hughes will deliver its HeloSat system for a constant and reliable live stream of HD video and other critical real-time data from the helicopter.
“Hughes innovative HeloSat System gives rotary aircraft critical, high-datarate connectivity through the blades so the aircraft can maintain communications beyond-line-of-sight for data-intensive requirements,” said Wayne Marhefka, senior director of business development at Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division. “Based on the advanced terminal and waveform technology, HeloSat can quickly deliver HD video off the aircraft for autonomous operations, even in complex environments like offshore oil rigs and disaster recovery areas.”
The Hughes HeloSat solution for this platform consists of the ruggedized, multi-band HM200 modem paired with a lightweight GetSat satellite antenna. The modular open system architecture will meet BLoS connectivity requirements for the autonomous UH-1H aircraft to reach stations needing logistics support anywhere in the world.
Hughes demonstrates network management and control for U.S. Military leaders
Interoperability of communications systems is a major objective in the defense market. This was clearly evidenced by leaders in the U.S. Department of Defense that recently witnessed a Hughes demonstration of a novel Software-Defined Network (SDN) embedded with an advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) agent.
The demo successfully proved the concept of a new level of Enterprise Management and Control (EM&C) that gives all user satellite terminals the ability to switch automatically among multiple modems and services when one is disrupted. Driven by software that manages a first-of-its-kind autonomous selection and orchestration of modem, satellite and service, the demo also featured a proposed Government Network Operations Center (GNOC)—with policy rules defined on an ongoing basis and sent to the terminals for path selection.
And the implications are significant—not just for the defense sector, but for the commercial market overall. Through improved interoperability comes improved security and resiliency, opening the way for highly secure and robust communications solutions that withstand intentional or environmental interference.
“This next-generation network demonstration reinforces the strong partnership between the military and the commercial satellite sector,” said Dr. Rajeev Gopal, vice president advanced systems at Hughes. “Our engineering teams from Maryland to San Diego are working to customize and build a stronger SATCOM infrastructure using state-of-the-art software and AI techniques. Our advanced technologies will deliver the full benefits of commercial high-throughput satellites with future low-earth and medium-earth orbiting networks.”
A critical component to this demonstration was the ability to use “out-ofthe-box” terminal modems. Demonstrating that this network management capability can be achieved without requiring DoD to buy all new terminals is important. While terminals will need software updates to integrate with EM&C and require time and some investment, overall this SDN capability equates to a highly cost-effective solution for DoD given the number of terminals they have in operation around the world, which was recently estimated to be over 17,000.
This capability can add unprecedented flexibility when compared to the legacy approach of buying transponded bandwidth months in advance, which may or may not be enough or, might not be used at all. EM&C essentially turns a previously two-month “best-guess” process into a concise five-minute automated exercise with predetermined rates for a “bandwidth-on-demand” model that would give DoD a more affordable and sustainable cost structure for their satellite networks.
In the demo attended by various leaders from DoD, Hughes used the management software to switch automatically between JUPITER™ and Comtech modems with a simple multi-modem adaptor to create the interoperability between multiple service options. By creating path diversity and redundancy with automated provisioning at network endpoints, the new EM&C will greatly improve overall network operational efficiency.
“Hughes has a long history of innovation in commercial satellite technology and services and we’re leveraging the talent, and expertise of our engineers across the company to transform military communications,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of Defense and Intelligence Systems Division (DISD) at Hughes. “The network solution our Hughes team presented gives a glimpse into DoD’s future—a flexible and resilient SATCOM architecture that will enable greater mission assurance for service men and women.”
Hughes is proud to serve customers in government and defense sectors, both in the U.S. and globally. Civilian agency and military customers alike have mission-specific requirements for which Hughes tailors the most appropriate and innovative networking solutions—spanning a wide range of capabilities, from advanced technologies and systems development to service delivery and applications. In particular, Hughes draws on the deep experience and know-how of its talented people, who are the reason why the company has led the way in satellite networking for over three decades: What the company learns on the commercial side of the business has applications on the government and military side—and vice versa.
In this special section of Channels, we highlight several government and defense projects that reflect the company’s mission of providing people with connectivity, where and when it’s needed.
Meeting Customer Needs
Hughes leads the industry in pioneering both technologies and services, delivering operationally viable and cost-effective networking solutions.
In the defense arena, that might mean reducing hardware SWaP so that warfighters can be more mobile and agile...developing solutions that connect remotely powered aircraft. . . or, enabling helicopters and other rotary wing aircraft to go BLoS during intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
“U.S. and allied countries worldwide are working more closely with commercial communications innovators like Hughes to strengthen their communications networks and keep their users connected, just like our enterprise users,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division. “The flexible and secure high-speed SATCOM services Hughes creates must support new and growing applications in every region, including the growing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle markets.”
For government organizations, Hughes helps modernize networks and delivers robust and secure solutions, ensuring that people in field offices and locations anywhere have the high-performance connectivity they need to fulfill their missions. Whether its emergency responders, teachers and students, park and preserve rangers or environmental researchers, all need connectivity for various applications, often in places beyond the reach of terrestrial services or when disaster strikes.
“Our government agency customers work day and night fulfilling missions many of us never hear about, yet demand connectivity everywhere they operate,” said Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of Hughes North America Division’s Government Solutions. “Whether we’re connecting a single park station or a disaster response command center or optimizing an entire agency network, our mission is to help our customers succeed in their missions.”
Single, consolidated contract enables 22 states to use America’s #1 choice for satellite Internet
On behalf of the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO), the state of Utah is leading a 22-state effort to simplify the process for purchasing telecommunications services. As part of this single, consolidated Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract, Hughes has been selected to provide state agencies with HughesNet®—the nation’s #1 satellite Internet service, designed to meet small office needs with unlimited data plans, built-in Wi-Fi and fast, 25 Mbps speeds.
Local agencies throughout the 22 participating states—including law enforcement, park services and agriculture stations—are taking advantage of the new contract to get connected. Additional states may opt in later. With HughesNet, employees have rapid access to critical information and applications such as email, point-of-sale transactions, Web pages, sharing files, online videos and more, regardless of where they work.
As a case in point, there are more than 8,500 state parks across the United States spanning over 19 million acres without access to terrestrial broadband service. Now, park employees will be able to better fulfill their mission of protecting nature’s wonders for all to visit and enjoy.
Under the contract, Hughes will also offer its lightweight, ruggedized flyaway satellite terminal (VSAT). Powered by the JUPITER™ System, this versatile terminal can be quickly set up in the most demanding environments—such as following a natural disaster. As a turnkey SATCOM solution, it is easily transported and assembled and has a self-pointing antenna to lock on to a satellite within minutes, requiring only one trained person who does not need extensive satellite knowledge or expertise.
Top of mind for Federal Government IT professionals is network transformation. The Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) offers improved application performance, less complexity and high security at a fraction of the cost of legacy dedicated network technology—a potential gamechanger for distributed agencies looking to modernize.
“Agencies that started transforming their networks early to SD-WAN have already seen major bandwidth increases at their locations and at a cost lower than their legacy dedicated services,” said Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of Government Solutions at Hughes. “When deployed as a managed service, SD-WAN reduces complexity, improves application performance and extends security to the edge, allowing the agency to focus on their mission, not their network.”
By the Numbers, Beyond the Budget
99% of global IT pros who have implemented SD-WAN are experiencing benefits:
57% improved network security
56% improved overall connectivity
53% improved network flexibility & agility
53% improved application performance
48% reduced overall costs
“Hughes understands the demanding modernization requirements that both commercial and government users have for daily operations,” said Janie Robinson, senior director for Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division. “Intelligence organizations are looking to innovative industry partners like Hughes to quickly, effectively, and securely design and implement ‘networking-as-a-service’ to improve mission readiness.”
Moving Federal SD-WAN Forward
Federal agencies have a unique opportunity to transform their networks as they transition between the legacy Networx contract and the General Services Administration’s Enterprise
Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract. To take advantage of this potential tipping point for SD-WAN technology, agencies should:
Where Does Government Stand?
While federal SD-WAN adoption is in the early stages, agencies are working to lay the foundation for modern networks:
29% of IT pros from civilian agencies
32% from DoD agencies say they’ve increased virtual networking and/or Software-Defined Networking (SDN) over the past two years1
The U.S. Army included SDN in their long-term network strategy: "By 2040, the Army expects every chain of command will be able to access its network from any location, and it is looking to SDN to help it achieve that goal2"
And federal IT Pros understand the benefits:
Federal IT pros say reducing network complexity is one of the top three most critical steps to enabling their new vision of government IT3
69% of Federal decision-makers say they depend on cloud access to complete work assignments4, and 84% agree network modernization is foundational to managing and improving
cloud application performance1
SD-WAN is even making its way into federal mandates. The latest iteration of the Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) initiative supports SD-WAN technology at agency branch offices as an initial common TIC use case5
1 MeriTalk’s Cloud Complexity Study2https://cbcommunity.comcast.com/browse-all/details/sdn-powering-the-next-generation-of-government-networks3 MeriTalk’s Reimagining Government IT Study4http://cdn.govexec.com/media/gbc/docs/deloittecloud2017_1208v2.pdf5https://www.meritalk.com/articles/tic-3-0-draft-removes-barriers-for-emerging-technology/
New mission management system and joint hub to enable USAF’s $383M Next Generation SATCOM Ground System
Hughes has been awarded a contract from Boeing to develop mission management, system control, networking and ground hub capabilities in support of an anti-jam satellite communications capability for the Air Force’s Protected Tactical Enterprise Service (PTES) program. The PTES program will provide the U.S. military with a joint ground platform designed to deliver resilient communications services through the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) constellation and commercial satellites. The program will expand to support DoD’s future Protected Tactical Satellites running on the Protected Tactical Waveform.
“Our talented engineers at Hughes are developing a state-of-the-art distributed software design for PTES data, control and management functions using a scalable, flexible architecture that incorporates advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques,” said Jeff Lessner, senior director of Business Development at Hughes. “This major program enables cost-effective, protected communications to more of our troops overseas.”
“This is a significant win for Hughes on a major DoD ‘Program of Record,’” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of Defense and Intelligence Systems Division (DISD) at Hughes. “After many years of study and interface with the USAF customer, a strong multifunctional team led by Dr. Rajeev Gopal, vice president of Advanced Programs, has shown how DoD can benefit from the commercial NMS work Hughes has developed over the last 25 years.”
Specialized HM Series Modem Powers BLoS Communications for Remotely Piloted Aircraft
Hughes has begun its first shipments of specialized, multiband HM400 satellite communications (SATCOM) modems to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), powering Beyond-Lineof-Sight (BLoS) communications for their next-generation Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), known as the MQ-9B SkyGuardian™. A customized, multiband satellite modem, the HM400 reflects how Hughes partners with customers to tailor solutions. Having satellite systems that can operate over different frequency bands allows global customers like GA-ASI to leverage the best technology Hughes has to offer, regardless of available service options.
For GA-ASI, the custom Hughes HM400 meets operational requirements to deliver enhanced satellite-based communications for RPA, leveraging an open system architecture and software-definable modem and waveform technology. The best-inclass solution supports both military and commercial satellite frequencies and can support applications such as search and rescue or disaster response for Predator-variant aircraft.
“Our goal is to deliver innovative technology to meet our customer’s needs. In this case, our HM400 modem was customized for GA-ASI’s resiliency, extreme environmental and performance requirements for their next-generation SkyGuardian RPA,” said Mark Wickham, senior program director at Hughes. “Shipping the first HM400 units on time was a great example of a team effort across the engineering organization, and we look forward to helping GA-ASI strengthen their new unmanned platform.”
Ideal for military operations in harsh or contested environs, the many benefits of the HM400 include frequency reuse for high operational efficiency, high throughput rates for HD video and data transmissions, and a low Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) profile.
Comprehensive offering includes broadband satellite service for rural offices
The Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services selected Hughes to offer managed network services, including High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) connectivity for its agencies. Oklahoma’s 130+ state agencies and affiliate organizations—including counties, cities, school districts and hospitals—can now access the suite of HughesON™ Managed Services to optimize their networks to meet agency and constituent needs throughout the state.
Under the contract vehicle, state and local agencies in Oklahoma can select from a range of broadband solutions for each location, including those lacking adequate terrestrial connectivity. For example, the Hughes HTS service offers 25 Mbps download speeds across the state and can be used to connect dispersed sites such as park offices, environmental stations or research facilities that may be limited by slow DSL and MPLS services—or have no wireline services at all.
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