INMARSAT Help Governments Increase Operational Capability

Issue 83

A Heritage in Safety, a Commitment to Innovation:

Inmarsat was set up in 1979 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to enable ships to stay in constant touch with shore or to call for help in an emergency, no matter how far out to sea.  This heritage in safety has endured and Inmarsat continues to help governments around the world make a greater difference in the lives of their citizens.

In order to help achieve this greater difference, Inmarsat has developed a global satellite network architecture that not only helps deliver a digital edge to all their clients, but also recognises that Government users need additional security features and capabilities, augmenting systems to meet those specific requirements. 

As a safety-critical network, Inmarsat’s cyber security levels have always been robust, with ongoing investment ensuring continual enhancements, coupled with an ability to create a completely closed private network for security conscious government clients. This means when working with governments, Inmarsat can help deliver greater operational effect for limited budgets.

Inmarsat currently provides connectivity across the operational sphere – fixed and rotary wing aircraft, UAVs, ships, submarines, mobile vehicles, and unmanned utilities or observation posts. The network is optimised for IP, and is capable of delivering connectivity globally over four networks:  terrestrial fibre, L-band, Ka-band and Mil-Ka. With the launch of the high bandwidth, Global Xpress service, the constellation now consists of 13 satellites offering services across the globe.

Partnerships and Innovation: How Inmarsat Became No1 Commercial Satcom Provider to Governments in 2017 

The rate of change in innovation, coupled with the rapidly fluctuating way militaries conduct modern operations, has led to a partnership between governments and commercial satcom providers such as Inmarsat.  Whilst governments will always need to invest in some military specific satellite assets, those assets tend to be highly targeted to meet very specific and increasingly rare mission requirements. However, buying a dedicated military satellite costs hundreds of millions of dollars and compares very poorly in terms of capacity or cost per bit within three years of launch.  This is due both to the rate of technological innovation and to the delay between government planning, approval and implementation stages. 

In contrast, adding military features to a commercial satellite costs one tenth as much, provides the most used parts of the functionality and allows a military to keep refreshing their technology every few years. Operators, such as Inmarsat, cost-effectively achieve this augmentation by enabling military functionality on top of that already provided for customers on their commercially built satellites. Inmarsat has seen increased demand for this approach from major space fairing nations, and its response has seen it become the number one commercial satcom provider to governments in 2017 as well as the leading mobile satellite operator in the world.  

Currently serving over 180 government departments across 90 nations, Inmarsat provides services that range from a simple, satellite phone or secure tactical satellite LTAC™ link, to the high bandwidth Global Xpress™ services, all the way up to the above-Secret, managed networks that blend Milsat and Commercial satcom. 

In Turkey, Inmarsat offers its L-band and Ka-Band products and services to government customer via its strategic partner TURKSAT, the Turkish National Satellite Operator.

Inmarsat and Turksat signed the Global Express (GX) partnership contract on 14 March 2018 to strengthen its strategic relationship.

TACSAT Capability Beyond Line of Sight – Using Existing Radios to Increase Capability

Whilst the Inmarsat Global Xpress service deals with the high bandwidth requirements of government users, the L-TAC service addresses the far less bandwidth hungry application of radio communications. Inmarsat has worked with hardware manufacturer, Spectra, to deliver a Tactical UHF Satellite (TACSAT) experience for both military and non-military government radio network users, through the combination of Inmarsat’s L-band satellite network, a Slingshot frequency converter and a Spectra portable L-band antenna. The service is available for lease over a fixed period (minimum one month) and provides a complementary service to existing UHF/VHF SATCOM channel availability. Once deployed, remote management and support is provided through a 24/7 network operation centre. Offering a combination of reliable voice and data connectivity that is available globally, independently of local infrastructure, the service is quick to set up, providing a fully configured solution, which needs minimal user intervention before deployment.

The Slingshot applique and small antenna converts in-service UHF & VHF radios to L-band satcom, enabling interoperability between agencies without any change to in-service equipment or security.  By converting in-service UHF and VHF radios into satcom devices, the SlingShot delivers BLOS voice and data communications, extending operational range from tens to hundreds of thousands of kilometres. The omni-directional antennas mean that communications-on-the-move (COTM) is truly effective. Vehicle testing has been successful at speeds in excess of 80mph, with no loss of signal or quality, and maritime speeds of 40 knots, with high-force turns have been achieved with no loss of service. With Inmarsat’s I-4 constellation of satellites, it doesn’t matter where in the world you deploy or what distance you need to maintain voice and data communications.

Complementing Existing Military Capacity

Many modern operations include coordination with multiple agencies, some of which will have different radio systems. Slingshot can bring these disparate systems together without additional re-equipping and without a heavy training tariff. Systems are available for Manpack, Vehicular, Maritime and Aviation use, meaning travelling teams can maintain contact.

For more information about Inmarsat activities in Turkey please contact the Country Manager Hilmi Tekinsoy at hilmi.tekinsoy@inmarsat.com ,+90.5337070358, +90533.9664966.