WASHINGTON — Hughes Network Systems announced Feb. 21 it will supply modems and other ground-based technology to SES Space & Defense for a military experiment aimed at establishing a multi-vendor mobile communications network. 

SES is planning a demonstration under the U.S. Air Force’s DEUCSI (Defense Experimentation Using Commercial Space Internet) program, 

SES and Hughes will attempt to establish a hybrid network supported by the SES-15 and SES-17 geostationary satellites, SES’ O3b medium orbit satellites, and SpaceX’s Starlink low Earth orbit satellites.

Mobile network tests in this demonstration will include ground- and air platforms.

Multiple experiments funded by DEUCSI

This experiment is one of several ongoing initiatives under the DEUCSI program. The Air Force Research Laboratory started the project in 2017 to explore the potential of using commercial satellite internet constellations to provide connectivity for military platforms.

Hughes’ network management software for the experiment is based on technology developed under the Air Force’s Enterprise Management and Control (EM&C) program. The military intends to use EM&C software to enable users to switch networks if the system they’re on gets disrupted by electronic jamming or cyber attacks. 

Hughes’ modems and network orchestration software “will enable resilient broadband connectivity using both Ku- and Ka-band GEO, MEO and LEO satellite constellations for various communications on-the-move test scenarios,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of Hughes Defense and Government Systems Division. 

“Whether users need connectivity on the ground or in the air, resilient communications must be available using the frequency band and satellite system that is most effective for the application and location,” Lober said. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...