Airbus has entered into a contract with the Ministry of Defense of Belgium to provide tactical satellite communications for the duration of 15 years. The Belgium Armed Forces will use channels of the Airbus Ultra High Frequency (UHF) military communications hosted payload aboard an Airbus-manufactured commercial EUTELSAT 36D telecommunications satellite.
With this new payload, the company will be able to provide a new UHF communications service to the military in 2024, said Eric Even, head of Marketing and Sales for Connected Intelligence at Airbus Defence and Space.
This service will compensate for the capacity shortfall that exists on a worldwide scale since the UHF frequency band is a scarce orbital resource. Airbus has already been given a significant number of firm orders for this capacity, a significant amount of time before the satellite is expected to be launched.
EUTELSAT 36D, scheduled for launch in the first half of 2024, combines 18 kW of electric power with a decreased launch mass of 5 tonnes, due to Airbus’ EOR (Electric Orbit Raising) technology. It will have a service life of greater than 15 years.
Airbus’ Network Operations Centre in Toulouse will serve as the location for the company’s management of the UHF payload. Its 18 UHF channels will make it possible for up to 200 people to communicate with each other simultaneously across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, significant areas of Asia, the Indian Ocean (to western Australia) and the Atlantic Ocean (to eastern Brazil).
Operations on land, sea, and air are all supported by the use of UHF satellite communications by the military. They have a high level of interoperability, which makes them very effective for missions involving multiple nations working together as a coalition. The UHF frequency spectrum is quite versatile and offers a means of communication that is unobtrusive, trustworthy, and exceptionally safe. It is possible to choose from a vast array of land, sea, and air terminals in order to accommodate the specific needs of the various branches of the armed services.
Airbus has unique experience in running UHF milsatcom services. The satellite’s lifespan capabilities will be expanded thanks to the addition of this new payload. Airbus is the only private satellite communications provider for the armed forces that offers coverage for the entire spectrum of the military (UHF, X, and Ka Mil) as well as commercial (L, C/Ku, and Ka) frequency bands and applications.
Airbus will construct the EUTELSAT 36D satellite using its Eurostar Neo platform. In addition to the UHF payload, 70 Ku-band transponders will be installed for television broadcasts.