Magazine Article | July 24, 2014

Where Does Commercial Satellite Use Fit Into Military Communications?

By Robert Demers, VP of government services, Thuraya

Understanding the need for commercial satellite integration

Assured, reliable, and secure communications are necessary for military operations. An example of this was brought to life in the film, “Lone Survivor” (2013). Based on a true story, the film dramatized how a significant number of specialized warfighters lost their lives due to unreliable, low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications.

As a dependable means of facilitating connectivity across vast and remote geographical areas, commercial satellite communications have been used effectively by militaries in various operations and conflict zones since the 1990s.

Going into the First Gulf War, the balance of government usage of commercial satellite capacity1 was about 20 percent. By the end of that conflict, it had risen to about 80 percent due to increased requirements — primarily for satellite imaging. As more conflicts came into being — and in some cases, overlapped — the use of commercial satellite capacity peaked at about 96 percent.