Viasat rapidly expanding Australia defense business

Access to high-speed satellite communications is vital to the country’s strategic interests


With dispersed population and infrastructure spread across a continental landmass, having access to secure, resilient, high-speed satellite communications (SATCOM) capabilities is particularly crucial for Australia. It is also vital to the country’s strategic interests.

“We sit in the Southwest Pacific, and our area of interest is massive,” explains Colin Cooper, general manager, Government Systems, Viasat Australia. “Our military forces have a unique requirement to cover vast, and often remote, areas of interest, which is well-suited for today’s private sector SATCOM capabilities.”

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is responding to new mission requirements with the JP 9102 program — also known as the Australian Defence SATCOM System (ASDSS) — which will deliver Australia’s next-generation satellite system covering Australia’s area of interest. The goal of the next-generation satellite is to provide sovereign, secure, resilient satellite communications wherever the ADF needs to operate. This requirement also needs to provide the flexibility and agility to enable quick response – minutes rather than days – to meet the needs of fast-moving users such as aircraft and special operations forces.

With enormous advancements in private sector SATCOM, it’s clear that achieving network layer connectivity using hybrid adaptive networking is an optimal solution for the unique mission needs and diversity requirements of the ADF.

Easier integration with hybrid architecture

Hybrid adaptive SATCOM architectures enable users to roam freely across both private sector and government networks. This approach will also allow military users to easily integrate capabilities as well as tap into and keep up with the rapidly advancing private sector capabilities in areas such as tactical networking, cybersecurity, information assurance, cloud-enabled battlefield applications and SATCOM.

Much like today’s smartphones are easily upgradable and consistently able to connect users to the network that provides the best service regardless of location or circumstance, a hybrid adaptive network approach will enable military users to do the same across the multi-domain battlespace. Hybrid adaptive networking will also enable the ADF to future-proof capabilities by having the network infrastructure to connect to the very latest technologies that will provide advanced speed, security and flexibility — such as those offered by Viasat and other private sector SATCOM networks.

Hybrid networking architectures also offer much greater resiliency when compared to using military single-network architectures. If Australia chooses to operate just one satellite, or even just one network, then “the ADF will significantly narrow their resilience,” Cooper says. “If that satellite network is jammed, disrupted or destroyed, the ADF will be left vulnerable and scrambling to obtain additional services.”

Cooper believes that, under the aims of JP 9102, the Australian government is more receptive to actively looking for the diversity of utilizing the advanced capabilities private sector SATCOM offers the ADF. That would go along with maintaining sovereignty of important national security communications. A hybrid adaptive network approach will enable these apparently mutually exclusive requirements.

Demo at MilCIS

Viasat will demonstrate the technical feasibility and advantages of hybrid networking at this year’s Military Communication and Information Systems Conference (MilCIS) in Canberra.

At MilCIS, Viasat will be demonstrating this satellite connectivity at the network layer, which will enable users on the battlefield to seamlessly switch between SATCOM providers.

“Rather than the traditional satellite service where users needed to be on the same satellite network to connect, it’s more like a mobile phone where it doesn’t matter who provides the network service,” Cooper says. “The network layer manages all that connectivity.”

Another key Viasat offering is cybersecurity, and the company plans to grow its cybersecurity capabilities and expertise in Australia as well. As a leading private sector SATCOM provider, Viasat has amassed a huge amount of knowledge, threat data and experience defending against some of the world’s most sophisticated cyber-attacks across both commercial and government networks. The company maintains a 24/7 Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOC) in the United States with access to extensive databases of cyber threats.

“Our intent is, in the near-future, to set up a similar sovereign but interoperable cybersecurity center in Australia,” Cooper says.

Viasat is also expanding its technical support footprint in Australia in a move that will both improve service and delivery of new capabilities for ADF users. In fact, last month, Viasat announced the establishment of two sovereign Maintenance, Test and Integration Facilities (MTIF) in Canberra and Newcastle.

Viasat has big plans for its Australia Defence business, and the company is rapidly expanding its presence and capabilities in the country to meet the needs of today’s ADF warfighters.

“Viasat is focused on rapidly growing our Five Eyes (FVEY) presence and sovereign offerings in order to rapidly and effectively deliver the capabilities needed for emerging mission requirements,” says Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat. “We are committed to helping ensure Australian forces have the technology, connectivity and sovereign capabilities needed to maintain a tactical edge across the battlespace.”

Viasat’s Australia Government Systems business is headquartered in Canberra and provides a wide range of defense technology capabilities to the ADF. Visit Viasat’s website to learn more about the company’s growing presence in Australia.