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Air Force Advances Integrated Military and Commercial Satellite Networks

The U.S. Air Force is making significant strides in bridging the gap between military and commercial satellite communication networks. With an eye toward enhancing military communications capabilities, a groundbreaking demonstration is slated for next year.

Exploring DEUCSI

The Defense Experimentation Using Commercial Space Internet (DEUCSI) program, initiated in 2018 by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), aims to harness the expanding commercial satellite internet industry to augment military communications.

Seamless Integration

The forthcoming demonstration, scheduled for 2025, will showcase innovative communications terminals designed to seamlessly integrate government-owned and commercial satellite constellations. This capability promises to provide enhanced access to bandwidth for military forces across diverse operational domains.

Overcoming Challenges

Key contractors like L3Harris Technologies are pivotal in this endeavor, having been awarded substantial contracts to develop multi-orbit satellite terminals. A significant technical challenge has been integrating various modems into a single platform that meets stringent military security standards.

The Role of RASOR

Central to this initiative is the modular radio technology dubbed RASOR (Rapidly Adaptable Standards-compliant Open Radio), developed by L3Harris. RASOR facilitates connectivity with multiple commercial satellite internet providers and dedicated military networks within a flexible, open architecture.

Future-Proofing Connectivity

DEUCSI terminals are designed with an open architecture to accommodate future additions of new commercial satellite internet providers. This ensures adaptability to the evolving satellite industry landscape, with plans to incorporate emerging networks like Amazon’s Project Kuiper.

Collaborative Efforts

Multiple stakeholders, including Northrop Grumman, SES Space & Defense, and Intelsat General, are actively engaged in developing multi-constellation satcom terminals. Subcontracts with leading commercial satellite operators further bolster the integration efforts.

Roadmap to Deployment

Following the anticipated flight demonstration in late 2025, L3Harris aims to validate ground-based RASOR terminals in 2026. The long-term objective is to provide a comprehensive suite of multi-orbit, multi-constellation terminals across all military branches.

Transition to Operational Use

AFRL emphasizes the goal of transitioning these technologies to operational use within the military branches within the next two to three years, pending successful testing outcomes. Early phases of DEUCSI have already seen elements transitioned to operational use, marking significant progress in bolstering military communications capabilities.

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