Wideband SATCOM terminals heading to sea

Norsat International Inc., a satellite communications terminal specialist, will supply maritime VSAT terminals to an unidentified U.S. military contractor under terms of a $2.7 million contact.

VSATs, for very small aperture terminals, have been used for years by the military services. They can be set up quickly to provide an Internet connection via satellite in the field, at sea or in the air, giving personnel voice, video and data communications. This past summer, the Army for the first time also connected VSATs to its Global Combat Support Systems-Army, a unified logistics support system.

The Vancouver-based company said the contact awarded by a "major U.S. military contractor" is for its Ku- and X-band marine VSAT terminal certified for use with the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system. Boeing's Space and Intelligence Systems unit is building the WGS satellite constellation.

The contract also calls for Norsat to supply two versions of its MarineLink dual antenna VSAT terminals to support maritime communications.

The Canadian company supplies off-the-shelf satellite terminals that can be customized for both military and commercial applications. The company said it would integrate its proprietary low-noise downconverters with its Atom Block upconverters into the MarineLink terminals.

The MarineLink terminals comply with military standard electromagnetic compatibility requirements. A high-end terminal with a 1.5-meter antenna must still be approved under a WGS certification process. Hence, Norsat said it expects to begin delivering the MarineLink terminals in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The sixth satellite in the WGS constellation was launched in August 2013. At least four more WGS satellites are scheduled for launch. WGS provides high data-rate, long-haul communications for the U.S. military, the White House Communication Agency, the State Department, international partners and "other special users."

About the Author

George Leopold is a contributing editor for Defense Systems and author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom."Connect with him on Twitter at @gleopold1.

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