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Network flexibility: A Vital Consideration for SATCOM Resiliency

Single points of failure in any complex system can bring operations to screeching halt regardless of all other safeguards in place.

In Satellite Communications (SATCOM), relying on a single orbit, constellation or frequency band for key command-and-control links is a single point of failure peer adversaries can quickly exploit.


Leveraging only one SATCOM asset for all space-based communications and intelligence relays can open the door to significant vulnerabilities, including providing solitary cyberattack targets – whether the network is owned by a government or a private company, according to Ryan McCarty, L3Harris vice president of U.S. Department of Defense Product Business Development.

“Assuming you’ve established a foundational SATCOM resource, all of the key command-and-control links you require for assured communications need redundancy to enable resiliency,” McCarty said.

The U.S. Army’s approach to its Scalable Network Node program in support of the Expeditionary Signal Battalion – Enhanced (ESB-E) is one example of concerted efforts to ensure SATCOM resiliency, McCarty added. The SNN leverages both line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight capabilities to provide signal path diversity in congested and contested environments that enables uninterrupted mission command with the ability to rapidly deploy and maneuver across the battlefield.

Key Considerations

Tactical-edge operations require assured access to secure communications in order to stay on the move as mission parameters evolve.

When leveraging SATCOM as the primary communications means, combining multi-orbit diversity with Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology enables auto-PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency & Emergency) capability, because the network can detect whether the primary mode is inaccessible and transfer communications to the next most-applicable channel, according to McCarty.

“Modem modularity – or the capability of a terminal to connect to various waveforms depending on what or where the user finds themselves – is critical in giving troops the access to lines of communications they need to get their jobs done,” McCarty said. “Delivering network flexibility gives users the ability to work across a number of networks so they can move at the pace of their mission.”

L3Harris’ Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) team can port industry partner waveforms and traditional card set hardware, providing more than a “terminal integrator” function for its customers – the company is a true innovator, developer and manufacturer of communications solutions that contribute to the next-generation technologies for warfighters, Zsanette, McKinney, L3Harris Account Management lead, added.

“The L3Harris line of VSAT solutions naturally delivers on these important considerations,” McKinney added. “The central design approach we take for our terminals is focused on overall system modularity, standardization, reduced setup time, and ease-of-use, with long-term continuous fielding support and modernization for the lifespan of the product.”

The Hawkeye 4 portfolio, with U.S. Space Force Delta-8 certification, now supports Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) Comms-On-The-Move missions when paired with the L3Harris COTM FSS-4140 phased array antenna. This next-generation antenna is half the height of its predecessor and capable of both GEO and MEO constellation tracking. The network modularity that the Hawkeye 4 brings to this solution is a true game changer.

Hawkeye™ 4 2.35 Meter Tri-Band VSAT

Leveraging terminals solutions with immediate access to multiple Satellite Communications orbits, constellations and frequency bands provides the flexibility required to ensure on-demand SATCOM when users need it. To learn more about the wide range of Very Small Aperture Terminals L3Harris delivers, visit: Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) SATCOM.

Use of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.