Satellite industry sees opening in Pentagon’s emerging SATCOM policy

05 April 2017: The Pentagon has started examining its future wideband satellite needs, but for it to get the most of the commercial sector it will need to make some radical changes, Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch, Inmarsat’s Senior Vice President of Government Strategy and Policy, U.S. Government Business Unit, says in an interview with Defense News.

The U.S. Department of Defense currently purchases satellite communications services on an “as-needed” basis from commercial providers in addition to the use of military-specific platforms such as Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS).

In the article, Rebecca suggests the military should shift the preponderance of its wideband communications needs towards commercial industry, using military satellites only in specialised situations.

Commercial backbone

“Rather than have the mindset that it is MILSATCOM first and commercial on an as-needed basis, put your core missions, your core capabilities that are known, consistent and essential right there on the backbone of commercial,” she says.

Rebecca also discusses commercial industry’s role in guiding the U.S. government as it conducts its Wideband Communications Services Analysis of Alternatives, and highlights Inmarsat’s ability to handle the ebbs and flows associated with demand and funding while emphasising the need for alternative acquisition methods for wideband SATCOM.