Viasat Partners with U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command in Global Lightning 20 Exercise

The goal is to provide resilient, agile and secure network communications to our warfighters


Global Lightning 20 (GL20) successfully concluded with the most commercial partnership participation to date at the Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in January 2020.

This year, Viasat, along with other private sector satellite communications (SATCOM) providers affiliated with the Commercial Integration Cell (CIC), supported the exercise by rapidly identifying, diagnosing and resolving on-orbit and network operations, while also increasing the overall resilience of Combined Force Space Component Command (CSpOC) operations.

The CIC is a collaborative government and industry effort to integrate commercial space operations including SATCOM networks into the CSpOC to pursue greater communication, cooperation and accelerated response to threats to space-based services.

GL20 provided training opportunities for commercial partners, U.S. Space Command, U.S. Space Force headquarters staff, and participating components, to integrate and synchronize space challenges and effects in support of joint all-domain operations across several combatant commands.

“We are teaming in new ways with our commercial partners to integrate their agile and rapid solutions, to enhance our resiliency, and to defend our warfighters,” said Maj. Gen. John E. Shaw, Combined Force Space Component Commander, U.S. Space Command, and Commander, Space Operations Command, U.S. Space Force. “With our partnerships in the Commercial Integration Cell, we are much better postured to protect our assets in space and our forces on earth.”

“Viasat is thrilled to partner with US Space Force and US Space Command,” said Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “It is an honor to be one of eight commercial partners in the CIC supporting warfighter operations and the planning exercises. Exercises like GL20 provide an excellent opportunity for all parties to work together as one team in order to find innovative ways to enhance U.S. space-based capabilities; address current challenges; improve overall collaboration; and ensure our warfighters maintain the technological edge needed for today’s complex missions.”

To be included in the exercise, all CIC participants went through the standard investigative process to obtain the appropriate security clearances. Maximizing CIC participation during GL20 enhanced classified and unclassified communication and planning between military and commercial participants, increasing commercial partners’ understanding of unique Department of Defense requirements during notional crisis and contingencies.

Space-based capabilities provided by CIC partners include, but are not limited to Low Earth Orbit, Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit, and Medium Earth Orbit satellites and associated ground segments and centers providing Earth Observation and multiband Communication Networks supporting fixed and mobility communications, voice and data connections, spatial and space-based technology solutions, terrestrial imaging, and remote sensing.

“When our commercial partners came to participate this year, they left their companies’ badge at home and became part of the total force,” said Col. Scott D. Brodeur, Director, Combined Space Operations Center, and Commander, 614th Air Operations Center. “They are a critical element of our integrated satellite communications and imagery architecture. We are proud to work alongside our commercial partners to protect our nations’ interests, and to protect the space domain for future generations to come.”

“We are looking forward to continuing to contribute our innovation, expertise and experience as a member of the CIC to help operationalize the Space Force Enterprise SATCOM vision that will deliver resilient, agile and secure network communications to our warfighters,” said Peterman. “Viasat’s CIC partnership with government space operations and other industry partners has been mutually beneficial in promoting the safe and peaceful use of space.”

Viasat joined the CIC in October 2018 to help U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command advance enterprise space communications and find innovative ways to deliver enhanced space-based capabilities to warfighters across the spectrum of operations.

Editor’s Note: Jamie Clegg and U.S. Space Force Public Affairs Contributed to this Article