SOCOM: Moving With Satcom




Carl von Clausewitz once famously observed that war is the extension of politics by other means.

So it seems fitting, at least in the sense that truisms are true, that the satcom-on-the-go platform that has been bringing the American people live coverage of the presidential election (which we blogged about here) is now being used by U.S. Special Forces in the Middle East.

We’re speaking, of course, of the ArcLight Mobile Satellite Communication System by ViaSat. We’ve written before about how the broadcast networks use the system in moving vehicles, and how the same platform is being used by AMERICOM and KVH for maritime mobile broadband

Now comes a press release announcing that ViaSat Airborne Broadband Ku-band satcom is being deployed by U.S. Special Forces for real time data and video communications: 

The system is already in use in the Middle East and coverage areas will expand as more terminals and hubs are delivered. This new operational capability, an extension of the ArcLight® mobile broadband system, is installed on C-130 aircraft, primarily for sending high resolution video back to higher command authorities for further analysis and identification.

Here’s a video of the type of real-world situations that the ArcLight system can help commanders in-field and at the United States Special Operations Command address. It’s taken from an AC-130 Gunship observing insurgents in Iraq. (Warning: Video contains violence and may not be suitable for all viewers.)


 The C-130 satcom system is built around the advanced ArcLight modem and networking technology using a spread spectrum waveform to enable the use of mobile satellite antennas as small as 29 centimeters in diameter. The antenna is enclosed in a radome attached to a redesigned emergency escape hatch. In a few minutes, operators can configure an aircraft for their specific mission without any permanent aircraft alterations, then quickly return the aircraft to its normal configuration when the mission is complete, while maintaining safety-of-flight integrity. The U.S. Air Force-certified hatch-mount terminal enables secure access to Department of Defense wide area networks at raw data rates up to 10 Mbps inbound and 512 kbps outbound while airborne.