Earlier this month, SES Space and Defense announced that it had been awarded the U.S. Government TROJAN follow-on contract to provide satellite services in support of U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM).
The TROJAN Network is the U.S. Army’s premier intelligence network, responsible for delivering operational intelligence capabilities and enhancing combat readiness for the warfighter, while enabling military decision-makers to make better, more data-driven decisions on the battlefield.
SES Space and Defense has been delivering satellite services in support of INSCOM and the TROJAN Network for more than two decades. To learn more about the Army’s TROJAN Network, why it’s essential for empowering the Army intelligence community, and why SES was chosen to continue delivering essential satellite services to INSCOM, we sat down with G. RamosCarr, a Senior Account Director at SES Space and Defense.
Government Satellite Report (GSR): Can you tell our readers a bit about the TROJAN Network? What does it do, and what role does it play for the Army?
G. RamosCarr: The U.S. Army has a large ecosystem of intelligence (intel) analysts and leads stationed all across the globe. These intel analysts all need access to the same data and intelligence information as their associates, and to be able to share important intelligence information.
That is the role of TROJAN.
The TROJAN Network functions to enable information and intelligence data sharing for the global network of intel analysts – whether they report to an individual combatant command or to INSCOM. By enabling intel data sharing and analysis, TROJAN effectively helps the U.S. Army make better, more informed, data-driven decisions.
GSR: Why is satellite an important component of TROJAN?
G. RamosCarr: This network of intel analysts and leads across the globe aren’t all operating in the same conditions and environments. In fact, many may be operating in austere environments where there is little or no terrestrial network connectivity, or where the existing terrestrial networks are denied or untrusted.
“Military intel is a highly prioritized user of MILSATCOM networks. However, when there are multiple satellite requirements happening concurrently, there is always the opportunity for satellite service to be preempted for other missions. There is only so much capacity available.” – G. RamosCarr
Satellite is essential in these environments because of its ability to deliver seamless, resilient connectivity and deliver essential intelligence data from in-theater to a known, trusted enclave. Satellite effectively gives a distributed network of intel analysts the same capability when they are deployed as when they are in headquarters.
GSR: Why are COMSATCOM solutions used for carrying TROJAN data and Army intelligence information instead of dedicated MILSATCOM resources?
G. RamosCarr: Military intel is a highly prioritized user of MILSATCOM networks. However, when there are multiple satellite requirements happening concurrently, there is always the opportunity for satellite service to be preempted for other missions. There is only so much capacity available.
Having a commercial partner that can deliver trusted, resilient satellite connectivity when and where it’s needed ensures that important intel data sharing and analysis doesn’t have to be interrupted because other missions preempted satellite communications. But there are other benefits that COMSATCOM brings to TROJAN and the U.S. Army intelligence community.
Considering the importance of military intelligence, and understanding that higher-quality intelligence data and information makes our military better and more effective, it’s understandable that the military would want to leverage the innovation of the COMSATCOM industry for its intel community.
Working with COMSATCOM gives the Army access to innovative new commercial technologies that are available today. Technologies that they would have to wait years to develop and deploy on their own. For example, at SES Space and Defense, we’ve built a Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation in O3b. And, later this year we’re going to be launching the next generation of that MEO constellation when we launch the O3b mPOWER satellite service.
“When O3b mPOWER is launched, the number of HTS beams in a region will increase dramatically – from approximately 10 to literally thousands. These powerful beams will allow for the use of different transponder sizes, and for capacity to be scaled to meet requirements.” – G. RamosCarr
The unprecedented scalability, capacity, and automation that will be delivered via O3b mPOWER will be available this year to the U.S. Army. It would take them years to field a comparable, purpose-built solution.
GSR: Are there any security concerns when it comes to using COMSATCOM for this use case? How do companies like SES assuage those concerns?
G. RamosCarr: SES Space and Defense has a very mature information assurance and mitigation strategy that is constantly being iterated and improved on. One of the reasons why we’re a trusted partner for the military – and for the Army on the TROJAN Network – is because of our steadfast commitment to protecting our customers’ data.
Security is clearly a concern with something like TROJAN, but we can work with the customer to design their network and utilize security solutions that keep their data safe. In addition, there are inherent security benefits with our O3b MEO and O3b mPOWER satellite services. The satellites are always moving, making them much harder to track and jam. The beam steering and other features built into the O3b mPOWER satellite service also make them more secure and assured.
Finally, if there is a need in the specific areas of responsibility (AORs) where there is access to our GOVSAT-1 solution, the Army intelligence community could benefit from the added security and reliability of our commercially-available military X-band and Ka-band capacity.
GSR: This was a recompete for the TROJAN contract. What about SES’s delivery of service for the original contract made the Army want to continue working with the company?
G. RamosCarr: Our team has developed and executed on a strategy to support the customer and their mission needs based on hard measurement metrics and processes that we’ve put in place that enable the customer to success and accomplish their mission.
We’ve also been dynamic – changing and evolving the network to meet their shifting mission requirements. In addition, we’ve been innovative – bringing new and exciting solutions to the marketplace such as the O3b mPOWER satellite service.
GSR: Is the TROJAN Network operated at GEO only, or is there also a need and use case for NGSO satellite services, as well? How does the multi-orbit satellite constellation that SES operates help the Army when it comes to sharing intelligence data?
“The TROJAN Network functions to enable information and intelligence data sharing for the global network of intel analysts – whether they report to an individual combatant command or to INSCOM.” – G. RamosCarr
G. RamosCarr: Today, the requirement is for capacity from GEO, which we’re providing to meet the Army’s satellite requirements. There have been mission requirements in the past that warranted leveraging our different capabilities, including high throughput satellites (HTS) at GEO and MEO.
However, while there is a path to utilize those other technologies – and while we’ve been able to leverage them for the Army in the past when the mission required it – GEO is specifically what is required for this solution.
GSR: With the launch of MPOWER imminent, will this new contract enable the Army to leverage those satellites for their intelligence requirements? If so, what do they bring to the table?
G. RamosCarr: This contract doesn’t specifically enable the Army to leverage MEO services. However, we do have a BPA for MEO capabilities and there is a follow-on BPA in the works that will give the U.S. Army access to O3b mPOWER, which will be launched in 2022.
When O3b mPOWER is launched, the number of HTS beams in a region will increase dramatically – from approximately 10 to literally thousands. These powerful beams will allow for the use of different transponder sizes, and for capacity to be scaled to meet requirements. This new service can also be utilized by the U.S. Army with no ground infrastructure changes, since there is no need to send data through a SES gateway – it can be sent directly to where the U.S. Army needs it.
O3b mPOWER will be game-changing for the military, in general. But it will be revolutionary for the U.S. intelligence community.
Featured image courtesy of U.S. Army National Guard. Photo by Sgt. John Stephens, 49th MP Brigade. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.