Auxiliary ship deploys LEO satellite internet

Thursday, 19 October, 2023

Auxiliary ship deploys LEO satellite internet

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Argus is understood to be the first military vessel to deploy low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet from global LEO communications network OneWeb and its distribution partner, Airbus.

RFA Argus performs several key roles for the UK armed forces. She is the UK’s Primary Casualty Receiving Ship, containing a 100-bed hospital in times of conflict; serves as a training vessel for military helicopters operating at sea; and is deployed as a frontline vessel around the world with helicopters to conduct counter-narcotics operations and disaster relief missions as well as to support Royal Marines amphibious raids.

“Crew welfare and morale is a key tenet of a platform’s fighting capability,” said Lieutenant Commander Ben Slater, from the Royal Navy’s specialist digital unit. “Enhanced connectivity, such as that delivered by low Earth orbit satellite networks, is an area that the Royal Navy are looking to exploit.”

The Kymeta Peregrine u8 terminal was fitted as a pilot while Argus was docked in Cornwall recently, in what is believed to be the first time that such advanced satellite-connectivity technology has been deployed on a military ship using the OneWeb network. The maritime terminal will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to the ship and her 400-strong crew anywhere in the world — even during challenging sea conditions and high-speed motions.

“In the modern era of global deployments, the wellbeing of sailors, soldiers, aviators and civilian staff has risen to become a strategic imperative for all armed forces: it is a pivotal role to generating mission effectiveness through maintaining morale,” said Chris Moore, VP Defence and Security at OneWeb.

“When in demanding, remote and hazardous environments, the ability to remain connected with loved ones, access recreational resources and communicate with friends becomes vital in sustaining a resilient and motivated force. Now, through OneWeb’s global constellation network and working with partners like Airbus, we’ve shown that we can make this a reality for all.”

The successful installation of the maritime-specific terminal is being hailed as a significant achievement for both OneWeb and Airbus, highlighting their dedication to revolutionising military connectivity and ensuring the wellbeing of military personnel whilst on deployment. Ben Bridge, Airbus Defence and Space UK Chairman for Global Business, said, “The deployment of this innovative technology reflects our commitment to providing critical connectivity solutions to the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence in the most demanding of environments, whether that be on land, sea, air or space.”

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