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Satnews Daily
May 8th, 2017

Inmarsat SwiftBroadband UAV Service ... a Product to Drone On About

A new satellite communications service has been launched at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL, an event dedicated to drones, intelligent robotics and unmanned systems, held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Centre, Dallas from May 8th-11th. Here at Booth 1631, Inmarsat and Cobham SATCOM launched the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband unmanned aerial vehicle (SB-UAV) satellite communications service, intended for use with the Cobham SATCOM AVIATOR UAV 200 terminal. 

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are the fastest-growing sector of the aerospace industry and governments are increasingly looking to harness the advantages that unmanned vehicles can provide. The rapid development in technology and subsequent increase in capability now sees governments deploying UAVs in operations as diverse as border protection, surveying, infrastructure inspections, emergency services and police surveillance.

SB-UAV SB-UAV (Class 4 Service) enables Inmarsat connectivity on low altitude, long endurance (LALE) unmanned air vehicle (UAV) platforms. SB-UAV offers a Class 4, single channel ‘always on’ data service up to 200kbps, and can offer streaming class services up to 32kbps.

Shaun Flanagan, Sales Director at AERO-SATCOM, an Inmarsat channel launch partner for the new service shared that unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) is one of the fastest growing markets for Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) and, due to the constraints on equipment size, weight and power consumption for this type of aircraft, it is crucial that the providers of airborne MSS equipment and satellite services be creative in supporting the applications required by ISR operators.  Cobham’s AVIATOR UAV 200 combined with SB-UAV, Inmarsat’s Class 4 SwiftBroadband service, allow AERO-SATCOM to meet the needs of this demanding market.

The AVIATOR UAV 200 redefines UAV satcom connectivity by integrating everything into one compact, lightweight box. Weighing in at 1.45 kg, AVIATOR UAV 200 is 76 percent lighter than anything comparable on the market and fits perfectly for the smaller UAV’s favored by governments. Inmarsat's terminal complements the release of the SB-UAV service—an Inmarsat SwiftBroadband Class 4 service which provides up to 200 kbps data for full, real-time control of the UAV while also allowing real-time image or video transfer in parallel.

Andrew Legg, Regional Director of Sales, Aero, at Cobham SATCOM commented that they are extremely excited to be working with Inmarsat to provide the AVIATOR UAV 200 Satcom terminal and its associated service, SB-UAV, to the unmanned aerial vehicle industry.  There is significant interest in the product capability from within the industry globally as OEMs and operators recognize the value of the highly reliable all-weather data connectivity solution operating on the established and well-proven Inmarsat network. The low weight of the system and its resulting applicability on even the smaller long range UAVs means it is a true platform BLOS capability multiplier.”

Andy Start, President of Inmarsat Global Government concluded they determined that a key enabler for the effectiveness of increased UAV deployment in the government market lay in the efficient transfer of information between these vehicles and decision makers. By extending the ability to retrieve information off a UAV beyond line-of-sight, the value of each sortie is extended exponentially—allowing increased operational agility through substantially improved situational awareness.