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Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division, discusses why technology needs to “just work together”

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the need

Network-centric communication requirements continue to grow in the military and homeland defence communities, with satellite communications (SATCOM) a central component contributing to operational success. Whether deployed in mountainous regions in Afghanistan, or urban areas with dense buildings and structures, SATCOM allows for continuous, uninterrupted beyond-line-of-sight communications, enhancing Command and Control (C2) and ensuring mission success. Modern military and relief operations have transitioned from the traditional unilateral and bilateral military operations, to multilateral operations needing C2 and information links between coalition partners and non-military organisations. Additionally, deployed users also need the ability to leverage commercial network service providers, to augment limited military anchoring capabilities. In this environment, the robustness of networks is enhanced through the integration of commercial and military security standards.

Converging CommerCiAl SeCurity StAndArdS With government CertiFiCAtion

As the requirements expand, it is necessary for the defence community to partner with commercial SATCOM providers to obtain the needed equipment and bandwidth to enable network-centric communications. Private industry stands ready to help meetthe communications gap. One area where militaries could greatly benefit by utilising solutions from the private sector is commercial satellite transmission equipment with government-certified security standards. Commercial standards for transmission security (TRANSEC) certified under internationally recognised programmes, like Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS), have become the de facto standard for securing the management and control functions of SATCOM links, for government and military organisations around the world. By leveraging commercially-standard equipment, militaries decrease costs and increase efficiencies, which is clearly a major priority to all in the current global economic landscape.


When coalition forces deploy, individual units often cannot operate beyond their own network, and information sharing is challenging, due to the use of proprietary and national communication standards. Satellite transmission equipment, such as Hughes’ commercially successful HX280 high- performance satellite router, utilising open standard waveforms like IPoS, and certified by international telecommunications bodies like the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), provide greater flexibility for deploying militaries to interoperate with coalition partners, without being bound by proprietary standards that restrict coalition inter-connection. By the same token, use of commercial waveform and security standards also make military users interoperable with other-government and non-government organisations, that are almost certainly integrated into large coalitions in the modern battlespace, and who are key stakeholders in the conduct of joint operations.

Another important interoperability issue for military communicators is whether communications infrastructure within deployment regions can be leveraged to provide the required space segment to support their operations, augmenting highly subscribed military facilities. The adoption of open standard waveforms with international certification, and commercially successful encryption security certified under schemes like FIPS, allow commercial network service providers to adopt infrastructure that leverage the same recognised standards, to support operational user demands for bandwidth and network security, while supporting their own economic goals and outcomes. In the days of proprietary waveforms and encryption standards, obtaining network service support through these commercial providers would have been much more expensive, and difficult to operationalise.

Working together

It has been said that the new generation of IT leaders expects technology to “just work.” Configuring and reconfiguring, or updating and re-installing is becoming a thing of the past. Technology needs to “just work,” but it also needs to “just work together,” not only operating with other systems, but operating with other coalition partners as the need arises. Implementing commercial satellite waveform standards and government-certified commercial encryption standards allows militaries to transmit information securely, deploy equipment quickly and provide the best value for government.