MilSatMagazine: Hughes DISD 2014 Year in Review

By Rick Lober, VP and GM of Hughes Defense & Intelligence Systems Division
MilSatMagazine, December 2014

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Today, many companies claim to support the military with commercial SATCOM solutions that are merely repackaged versions of their products that lack the capabilities necessary to satisfy government customers.

At Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division (DISD), we are solving the government’s toughest SATCOM challenges by delivering solutions rooted in our best commercial platforms and utilizing our most advanced technologies.

In 2014, much of Hughes DISD’s success was derived from innovations in ground and terminal systems, waveforms/coding, and network management capabilities that collectively differentiate the Hughes name from the rest of the industry. For example, Hughes DISD engineers developed several key SATCOM technologies including VSATs, airborne-qualified modems, software definable modems and network management techniques for protected communications systems.

Two trends underpinned Hughes’ defense business growth in 2014, and we expect them to remain key drivers in 2015. First, as the military landscape grows ever more reliant on broadband to turn data into actionable information, we saw the demand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) on manned and unmanned platforms continue to expand. Second, the United States and other nations continue to recognize and expand their need for protected, but affordable, satellite communications, including assets already in orbit.

To meet these challenges, Hughes DISD continued to advance the technologies that aligned with our customers’ mission-specific, or requirement-specific, needs, focusing on ISR capabilities and affordable protected SATCOM:

  • Advanced waveform technologies that can transmit effectively beyond the line-ofsight (BLoS) through rotary wing aircraft. In 2014, our team designed an airborne-packaged modem with an ARINC-style enclosure to qualify for airborne operations and developed some of the smallest terminals available for use on both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
  • Announced development of the XeBRA terminal in partnership with Airbus. XeBRA terminals and services provide BGAN-like services and terminal size in a very small package capable of operating at X-band frequencies on satellites such as WGS at very low costs. We are also actively developing a Comms-On-The Move (COTM) version at Ku-band that will use antennas much smaller than those used on current ground systems.
  • Successfully demonstrated advanced network management capability, highlighting dynamic resource allocation in conjunction with Space Systems Loral (SSL) for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Command (SMC) Protected Tactical System (PTS) study. SMC should be praised for its ongoing efforts to define requirements and develop solutions using the best technologies available – commercially-based or otherwise.
  • Continued our thrust into software-definable modems that will run our open standards-based waveforms. These modems are becoming the primary engine in our growing product line.

Looking forward to 2015, Hughes DISD will continue developing endto-end solutions for its growing customer base. We have repeatedly heard of the need for affordable protected tactical SATCOM from our customers and fully expect to expand our work with the U.S. Air Force to deliver capabilities in this area, anticipating that other countries will follow suit whether via a consortium or individually. We hope that the new Congress supports PTS by removing any roadblocks to funding. In summary, Hughes is proud to serve our country and is dedicated to applying our expertise to continue supporting defense-related missions. Our open, collaborative and highly responsive culture has proved an asset to our customers and partners alike, bolstered by a strategic, confident team of experts with unparalleled technical capabilities. Looking into the future, Hughes will maintain its successful course to seek efficiencies in designing and building new and advanced ground segment and terminal segment solutions that utilize our most advanced waveform technologies that can be integrated with our proven network management techniques.

Rick Lober is the Vice President and General Manager of the Defense and Intelligence Systems Division (DISD) at Hughes Network Systems, LLC. In this role, he is responsible for applying the company’s broad range of SATCOM technologies and services to the worldwide defense marketplace and intelligence community. This includes both fixed Ku, Ka and X band VSAT and mobilesat products and systems. Applications cover satellite communications on the move for both ground based an airborne platforms along with numerous classified development programs. He has more than 25 years experience with both COTS-based and full MIL communications and intelligence products, systems and major programs starting as a design engineer and progressing to a P&L executive.

Mr .Lober previously worked at Cubic Corporation as Sr. VP/GM of the Communications Business Unit. In this role he led the company’s development of the Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) for application to both manned and unmanned military ISR platforms. Program wins included the U.S. Navy’s Common High Bandwidth Data Link (CHBDL) for large deck ships, TCDL for the U.S. Navy’s Firescout Rotary Wing UAV, the data link subsystem for the U.K. MOD’s Watchkeeper Fixed Wing UAV and a miniature version of TCDL for the U.S.A.F. These programs resulted in total orders of over $150 million just a few years after the system’s introduction. In addition, Mr. Lober’s business unit managed the data link system for the U.S.A.F./U.S. Army’s Joint STARS program, the Personnel Location System used in Special Operations search and rescue missions, high power HF amplifiers for military communications systems and a line of receivers and direction finders for signal intelligence applications.