WASHINGTON — Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat is reviewing how it can better position itself to bolster its booming U.S. Defense Department business, which Eutelsat Chief Executive Michel de Rosen said March 17 was once viewed as a minor revenue source.

Paris-based Eutelsat, whose satellite fleet includes C- and Ku-band spacecraft with coverage of the Middle East and North Africa, has been a beneficiary of the Defense Department’s increased use of commercial satellites to transmit certain types of data to and from Iraq, Afghanistan and the surrounding region.

The Pentagon is responsible for more than 80 percent of Eutelsat’s Multi-usage division, which reported a 27 percent increase in revenue, to 44.4 million euros ($63.6 million at year-end exchange rates), for the six months ending Dec. 31.

“This used to be considered as an add-on,” de Rosen said during a briefing at the Satellite 2010 conference in Washington. “Now it is around 10 percent of the company’s business. We are now focusing on what more we can do for this customer over the longer term. It is clear that the Pentagon does want to use more and more commercial contracts.”

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.