Study To Outline Commercial Satcom Practices To Aid USAF

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  Space News Business

Study To Outline Commercial Satcom Practices To Aid USAF

By JEREMY SINGER
Space News Staff Writer
posted: 22 July 2008
03:30 pm ET





BOSTON — A Maryland company is conducting a study to show how the U.S. Air Force might adopt some of the lessons learned by the commercial satellite industry as the service deploys new military satellite communication networks. Lorne Caddick, vice president for the advanced space division at Arinc, said that the Annapolis, Md.-based firm is studying lessons from its work providing a communications network for the commercial airline industry that could be applicable to future military networks.

Caddick
said in a July 16 interview that the study, which began in May and wraps up at the end of July, is being conducted on behalf of the Military Satellite Communications Wing at the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, but he declined to specify particular Air Force systems that might be candidates for its lessons.

The study could lead to more use of commercially available products in Air Force networks, as well as different uses of commercial products that the military already plans to buy, Caddick said.

Arinc
today operates a communications network consisting of commercial satellite communications and terrestrial links that is used by most major North American airlines for a variety of purposes, including transmitting flight plans and safety messages, according to Spencer Bauer, senior director at Arinc’s space systems division.

The military might be able to draw from this model as it seeks to break down so-called “stovepipes” of isolated networks that can hamper collaboration, Caddick said.

The need to protect communications that involve users with a variety of different levels of security clearance can be seen as an impediment to bringing more users together on a single network, Caddick said. However, while accomplishing that task is challenging, Arinc has been able to assuage concerns from competing airlines regarding protecting their communications traffic from competitors, Caddick said, noting the company has not had any problems in this area.

Breaking down stovepipes and incorporating other commercial practices also can reduce the number of personnel and the infrastructure needed to accommodate communications traffic, Caddick said. Arinc’s network handles about 20 million messages from approximately 10,000 users every month, yet requires minimal personnel to operate it compared to military networks, he said.

By bringing together more military users on a single network, the cost of operating and sustaining their communications capabilities can be reduced dramatically, Caddick said.