Belgian Military Scrambles To Meet Bandwidth Needs

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The Belgian Defense Ministry is trying to squeeze more performance out of its limited satellite communications capacity but is caught between a declining defense budget and field commanders’ demand for satellite links that resemble “what they have seen in the movies,” according to Col. Roland Teheux, director of the ministry’s operational support division.

“Asking for movie-type CIS [communications and information systems] is not realistic,” Teheux said. “Our defense budget will not be increased, so our only option for finding additional resources is to get rid of people. Seventy percent of our costs are in personnel.”

Belgium believes it will need to provide satellite links for the foreseeable future to 1,200 to 1,500 deployed troops. Belgian forces currently use 9 megahertz of capacity on the Intelsat 10.02 satellite covering Europe, 4.7 megahertz on the Xtar-Spainsat satellite operated by Xtar LLC of the United States and Spain, and 6 megahertz of capacity on Paris-based Eutelsat’s W-series spacecraft.

In addition, Belgium has arranged with Xtar for a certain amount of capacity to be made available on an as-needed basis.

A program to upgrade Belgian forces’ satellite ground terminals has been put on hold for budget reasons, he said.