Yahsat Exec Outlines Operator’s Airborne Satcom Ambitions

[Satellite TODAY Insider 07-03-12] Yahsat, the Middle East satellite operator, which signed a deal with Astrium in May to gain the technology solutions it needs to support the United Arab Emirates airborne assets, could ultimately look to play in the commercial airborne satellite communications market as well. YahService General Manager Rashed Al Ghafri told Satellite Today Insider, “While this is an application developed initially for government use, we do not rule out working with commercial clients to provide them with airborne satellite communications connectivity in the future.”
            However, initially, Yahsat will be focused on the government market. Astrium will provide airborne systems comprising modems, baseband equipment, cryptos, network management and ground segment. The system will help overcome the increasing requirement and demand for secure, high-speed transmission of data in the area. In terms of what YahService wants to bring to this market, Al Ghafri said, “This specific opportunity is to address the airborne satellite communications requirements of our government client. Our intent is to support government clients in linking their various platforms (land, air and sea) via secure and robust satellite communications connectivity to increase their reach for beyond line-of-site applications. Government clients will be utilizing the Ka-band capacity they procured from Yahsat to support their satellite communications needs. Not only will we provide the hardware sub-system, but our responsibility will extend to operating and maintaining the system once commissioned.”
            The company, one of the newest satellite operators around, is faced with a number of technical challenges in this area. “Anytime you fit aircraft with satellite communications capability, you need to ensure that the safety and environmental requirements are adhered to and respected. Another significant challenge is to implement this system in Ka-band frequencies, where commercial-off-the-shelf products are not readily available,” Al Ghafri said.

            The deal with Astrium was an important one for Yahsat in this regard. Al Ghafri says it has “high significance” for the operator. “Astrium will provide us with the satellite communications indoor equipment in the aircraft and the associated ground segment. We decided to work with Astrium because they understand the Yahsat satellite communications network and have the experience and expertise to implement and maintain such a complex system,” he adds.

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