Insight | L3Harris Technologies delivers “two for one” terminal to support government customers


L3Harris Technologies delivers “two for one” terminal to support government customers


In the third of a series of Value-Added Manufacturers blogs, L3Harris reflects upon its successful long-term partnership with Inmarsat and the company’s focus on ruggedization, reliability and ease of use terminal offering.

Our partnership with Inmarsat goes back to the launch of our SATCOM Products division over 20 years ago. We were an early partner of Inmarsat’s, delivering L-band services, and then transitioned to the design and manufacture of very small aperture terminals (VSATs), which remains the focus of our business today. We were Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) partner from the outset and in 2015, we designed one of the first terminals for GX.

Throughout it all we have always worked towards a singular purpose: We are satisfied with nothing less than developing the most rugged, reliable, capable and transportable VSATs anywhere. This is what separates us from others in the market. Developing a terminal like the DarkWing takes considerable talent, determination and vision to engineer all of the components of a larger, parabolic terminal into a product that is less than four inches tall. That is packing a lot into a small package.

Most recently, we proudly announced that our DarkWing terminal received Category 1 and Category 4 approval to operate on the GX network. This distinguishes the DarkWing with unique “two for one” value, able to support both commercial and high-powered military Ka (Mil Ka) globally. Both purposes require disparate technologies, with different waveforms in the modem and different frequency bands. It is really like fitting two separate terminals into a single VSAT.

Of course, DarkWing has to deliver on performance too, and it does: a worldwide GX subscription plan offers data rates up to 6Mbps x 3Mbps. Higher-speed communications are available to government customers on the GX SATCOM as a Service network up to 59Mbps x 7.5Mbps globally[VH1] , and up to 90Mbps x 30Mbps using Inmarsat military Ka steerable antennas. DarkWing’s combination of a very small form factor and lightweight flat panel provides high-speed data communications for internet usage, virtual private network (VPN) connectivity and video transmission. It is ideal for small teams, VIPs or sensitive missions because users can fit it in a backpack or laptop-sized case for ease of transport.

Thanks to the integration of the modem, radio frequency (RF) components and antenna into a single assembly, you can go from setup to operational deployment in less than five minutes for optimal ease of use. Everything is seamless, to the point where you can use DarkWing anywhere in the world without going through the complex process of finding new airtime in whichever coverage area the mission takes you. That is a powerful capability to have in your toolbox.

We were able to accomplish this because of our close partnership with Inmarsat. We constantly collaborated to ensure that DarkWing worked with the Inmarsat global network, with tight controls needed over the terminal design, testing and validation. This involves a fine balance in which we sought to maximize the amount of data throughput we could achieve while still meeting regulatory network requirements, and Inmarsat’s input greatly helped us get there.

At L3Harris Technologies, we are always pushing the envelope in pursuing the limitless possibilities of innovation. Government customers are looking to get the best combination of capabilities and low size, weight and power (SWaP), and we know that every pound we save in our products plays an essential role in their mission. Please contact Inmarsat to find out what our terminals can do for you. Contact L3Harris to learn more about our  VSAT offerings.

DarkWing is a new addition to the GX family of terminals that combines a small form factor and lightweight flat-panel to produce a Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT).

About the author

Eric Clague is Senior Manager, Product Management, SATCOM Products at L3Harris Technologies.

Eric joined the company in 2006 as Program Manager for Army/USAF/Marines, delivering thousands of VSATs to US DoD customers. Since moving to Product Management in 2013, Eric is responsible for the entire line of rugged deployable VSATs with a focus on growth and strategic partnerships. Eric holds a B.S. in Management and M.B.A. from St John Fisher college.