24 May 2019

Viasat delivering first Link 16-capable low Earth orbit spacecraft

Viasat has been awarded a contract by the Administrator of
the Space Enterprise Consortium, under the Air Force Research Laboratory Space
Vehicles XVI program, to deliver and test the first-ever Link 16-capable LEO
spacecraft.

The Viasat designed spacecraft is intended to enhance warfighters’ situational awareness by extending the range of Link 16 networks – using a constellation of satellites to provide greater access to Link 16 capabilities in contested or congested environments.

Under the XVI program, Viasat will become the first company
to prototype and test space-based Link 16 capabilities compatible with fielded
US Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Link 16-enabled
platforms, including ground vehicles, aircraft, maritime vessels, and
dismounted users. The XVI program is a key step towards making a global Link
16-enabled LEO satellite constellation, transforming Link16 from a
Line-of-Sight (LOS) to a Beyond Line-of-Sight (BLOS) network, providing US and
allied military forces with ubiquitous, secure, high-speed and resilient
communications necessary to improve the common operating picture across the
global battlespace.

Viasat’s Link 16-capable LEO satellite is designed to fit
the Viasat Hybrid Adaptive Network (HAN) satellite communications (SATCOM)
concept. The HAN architecture will allow users to operate across commercial and
government SATCOM networks and multiple orbital regimes, creating an end-to-end
multi-layered solution resilient to network congestion, intentional and
unintentional interference and cyber threats – even in highly-contested
environments. The Link 16-capable LEO satellite will allow Link 16 networks to
leverage the resilient, global connectivity capabilities of the HAN and share
information with other warfighters, anywhere in the world.

Ken Peterman, President, Government Systems, Viasat, said: “The XVI award highlights Viasat technology leadership in Link 16 and space-borne tactical communications.

“Our innovative spacecraft design and development coupled with expertise in next-generation tactical datalinks and cybersecurity places Viasat in a unique position to address the Department of Defense’s urgent need for a fast-to-market, cost-effective, space-based Link 16 solution to maintain a technological edge in contested environments.”

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