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The first day of Global MilSatCom 2021 will primarily focus on the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) SATCOM needs and capabilities, with particular emphasis on their SKYNET Enduring Capability ( SKEC ) program.

SKYNET is a family of military communications satellites, currently operated by Airbus Defence and Space for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), that provides strategic communication services to the UK Armed Forces and allies. SKYNET 5 is the most recent generation of this family. The SKYNET Enduring Capability (SKEC) programme will deliver the next era of satellite communications (SATCOM) to the MoD using new space assets and a way to monitor and control them. These assets will also be supported by additional commercial services to provide a reliable and robust communications service.

The MoD is currently developing a new architecture for SKYNET, designed to replace the SKYNET 5 system whose funding program ends in August 2022. What they envision for SKYNET 6 is a flexible system architecture that will combine UK government, allied, and commercial satellites, including the current SKYNET 5 satellites. SKYNET makes up a large part of the MoD Future Beyond Line of Sight Satellite Communications programme (FBLOS), which extends to 2041, with expected transition costs of about £6 billion.

To update attendees on the current and future status of this program within the UK's MoD, Captain Phil Coope, the UK Strategic Command's Deputy Head of Space, Capability C4ISR, will give a presentation on the key drivers for SKYNET in terms of availability, coverage, flexibility, and interoperability. As part of his presentation, he will take a peek into the future and explain how SKYNET 6 will help shape SKYNET 7 and outline the balance between owning MILSATCOM and Allied MILSATCOM. He will also address the perceived industry challenge of how the UK MoD can be more innovative regarding the future of SKYNET.

One of the more interesting - and potentially enlightening - sessions on MilSatCom's first day is a panel discussion that will explore the possibility of exploiting commercial SATCOM (COMSATCOM) systems for military applications. Among the topics the panel will explore are what benefits commercial solutions could provide for the military; what are some of the future use-cases being envisioned for COMSATCOM; what are some of the drawbacks and limitations to using commercial systems and how can they be overcome; and is the UK MoD really set up for effective collaboration with commercial partners?

Recognizing that in today's technology-driven world, no country can operate in a vacuum, especially when it comes to communications, Day 1 will also include in-depth presentations on NATO's space communications program, France's MILSATCOM strategy and SYRACUSE 1V satellite program, and Luxembourg's perspectives on MILSATCOM.

This year’s Global MilSatCom conference offers both online and in-person registration options.

For more information about Global MilSatCom, visit www.smi-online.co.uk/defence/uk/conference/global-milsatcom .