Earlier this month, SES announced that it had closed its acquisition of DRS Global Enterprise Solutions (GES) from Leonardo DRS, a deal that combined one of the world’s largest and leading satellite operators with a leading satellite integrator for the U.S. government and military.
As part of the announcement of the deal closing, SES also revealed that David Fields would become the new President and CEO of SES Space and Defense. The thirty-year veteran of the satellite and IT industries would be taking over for Brigadier General Pete Hoene, who would be retiring.
The Government Satellite Report recently had the opportunity to sit down with Fields to discuss the acquisition, what it means for DRS GES and SES Space and Defense customers, and what his first priorities are as President and CEO.
Government Satellite Report (GSR): What kind of business was DRS Global Enterprise Solutions (GES)? What solutions and services did the organization offer? Which government agencies and organizations were among GES’ customers?
David Fields: The DRS GES was in space integration. They were not a satellite operator like SES.
As an integrator, DRS GES would work with government agencies to understand their customers’ satellite and communications needs and requirements. They would then connect those government customers with the best satellite solutions to fit their needs.
We will continue to bring the best of the industry together to meet the demanding mission requirements of agencies across the US Government.” -David Fields
DRS GES was always vendor agnostic – leveraging relationships across the satellite communications industry to get the best, most effective solutions for their government customers. That is something that will not change despite now being a part of SES Space and Defense. We will continue to bring the best of the industry together to meet the demanding mission requirements of agencies across the US Government.
GSR: Why was the acquisition of DRS GES the right decision for SES? How does the addition of the DRS GES business synergize with the company’s existing offerings and capabilities?
David Fields: DRS GES and SES have incredibly complementary capabilities. We’re effectively pulling together portfolios from two successful companies and creating an entity with the combined capabilities to meet even the largest and most critical government satellite requirements.
The integration of the two organizations brings together incredible capability and expertise in end-to-end network management and multi-band and multi-orbit satellite communications. We’re combining an organization that manages over 10,000 terminals across government networks with a satellite provider that has deep expertise in offering best-in-class satellite communications from multiple orbits.
GSR: Why is DRS GES being organized under SES Space and Defense? Why does this make the most sense for both organizations?
David Fields: Even though the organizations’ offerings didn’t directly overlap – with DRS GES being an integrator and SES Space and Defense being a satellite operator, we did have common U.S. government customers.
While GES did have some non-government customers, they represented a small part of the business. So, it makes sense to bring together two organizations with a long history of servicing the government, deep knowledge about the unique challenges that government customers face, and the importance of their missions.
DRS GES’ terrestrial network has a Risk Management Framework (RMF) authorization from the U.S. Government and is completely approved to connect to government networks.” -David Fields
Bottom line is that both business units have trusted partnerships that have a strong record of enabling many of the most demanding, mission-critical applications required by the US government. With this experience—and now with the organizational scale, technology assets, and technical competencies from the GES acquisition—SES Space and Defense is poised to deepen these customer relationships and deliver long-term value that sustains market leadership.
GSR: What will the addition of DRS GES mean for SES Space and Defense customers? What new capabilities or services will this make available to them?
David Fields: DRS GES brings a very significant terrestrial network to the table, as well as a teleport and network operations capability. DRS GES’ terrestrial network has a Risk Management Framework (RMF) authorization from the U.S. Government and is completely approved to connect to government networks. That cyber posture will be a huge advantage for SES Space and Defense customers moving forward.
Also, early on, we’ll be looking to integrate DRS GES’ Information & Communications Technology (ICT) portal and SES Space and Defense capabilities for network management. Doing so, will provide SES Space and Defense’s customers with a transparent, single-pane view of the network. We’ve already begun rolling it out for DRS GES customers, and we’re looking forward to offering that capability to SES Space and Defense customers, as well.
GSR: What does this acquisition mean for DRS GES customers? What can they expect now that DRS GES is a part of SES Space and Defense?
David Fields: DRS GES has been satellite agnostic throughout its entire existence and takes pride in bringing the best satellite services and solutions to their customers based on their unique needs and requirements.
O3b mPOWER is revolutionary in capacity, flexibility, latency, and automation and will open the door for advanced capabilities for our US government and DoD customers.” -David Fields
But now, DRS GES customers will also have immediate access to a fleet of satellites in multiple orbits – GEO and MEO — and multiple frequency bands enabling them to meet surge capacity requirements in a timely manner.
Our DRS GES customers will also have access to SES’ upcoming next-generation Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellite constellation, O3b mPOWER. O3b mPOWER is revolutionary in capacity, flexibility, latency, and automation and will open the door for advanced capabilities for our US government and DoD customers.
GSR: As the new President and CEO of SES Space and Defense, how has your career to date and past experiences positioned you to succeed in this role?
David Fields: My career has spanned more than 30 years, working with large government contractors and small companies, alike. I’ve worked with satellite operators, integrators, and in the IT industry – I’ve even started and sold two of my own startup companies.
We’re seeing massive innovation across the industry and a shift from constellations in a single orbit to satellite fleets spanning multiple orbits, particularly non-geostationary orbits (NGSO).” -David Fields
I believe my experience across all these complementary industries will benefit SES Space and Defense following the acquisition of DRS GES. I particularly think my startup experience will be beneficial. While neither SES Space and Defense nor DRS GES is a startup company, the resulting company will look very different following the acquisition.
GSR: What are your top priorities in this new role as CEO of SES Space and Defense? What can SES Space and Defense customers expect?
David Fields: My highest priority and our largest responsibility are delivering continued, consistent operations for our customers. Regardless of how we organize the company, how we combine its capabilities together, or the resulting corporate structure – the process needs to be seamless and transparent to our customers, and there can be no effect on operations.
GSR: Why is now such an exciting time to be at the helm of a satellite company? What industry trends and government trends make this point in time so important in the space and satellite industries?
David Fields: The industry is completely changing. We’re seeing massive innovation across the industry and a shift from constellations in a single orbit to satellite fleets spanning multiple orbits, particularly non-geostationary orbits (NGSO).
The fact is that today’s modern government systems and applications have increased throughput demands and required the industry to change the paradigm of satellite communications. In doing so, the industry has responded with the evolution of satellite constellations at MEO and Lower Earth Orbit (LEO). It’s exciting and driving a new wave of innovation and change that is unprecedented in the industry.
It’s unlike anything that I’ve witnessed in my thirty-year career.