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Intelsat, General Atomics Demo UAS Beam Switching Capabilities

By | November 17, 2017
      General Atomics' Maritime Predator B UAS. Photo: General Atomics.

      General Atomics’ Maritime Predator B UAS. Photo: General Atomics.

      Intelsat General, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intelsat, announced that it has successfully demonstrated beam switching capabilities of an in-flight Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operating on the company’s Intelsat 29e satellite. The tests validated the compatibility of the Intelsat Epic platform with the newly developed beam switching capability of the Block 5 Predator B/MQ-9 from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

      According to Intelsat General, this is the first in-flight switch of an MQ-9 on a High Throughput Satellite (HTS). Beam switching is particularly important for United States and allied military forces looking to expand UAS operations to high performance, multiple-spot beam, high-throughput satellites such as Intelsat Epic, Intelsat said.

      The multiple spot beam design inherent in HTS like the Intelsat Epic system substantially increase the satellite’s throughput, allows for the use of much smaller antennas, higher performance from existing antennas, and enhances the security on the satellite over traditional wide-beam satellites, Intelsat said. This same design also requires that mobility applications across large geographic areas must traverse multiple spot beams on the satellite.

      “The images and other data collected by UAS are critical for many military operations,” said Skot Butler, president of Intelsat General. “These tests demonstrate the capability of the high-throughput Intelsat Epic platform to support aircraft as they travel long distances across multiple spot beams.”