Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT) has been awarded a contract by the Administrator of the Space Enterprise Consortium, under the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles XVI program, to deliver and test the first-ever Link 16-capable LEO spacecraft.
The Viasat-designed spacecraft is intended to enhance warfighters' situational awareness by extending the range of Link 16 networks — using a constellation of satellites to provide greater access to Link 16 capabilities in contested or congested environments.
Under the XVI program, Viasat will become the first company to prototype and test space-based Link 16 capabilities compatible with fielded U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Link 16-enabled platforms, including ground vehicles, aircraft, maritime vessels, and dismounted users.
Viasat's Link 16-capable LEO satellite is designed to fit the Viasat Hybrid Adaptive Network (HAN) satellite communications (SATCOM) concept. The HAN architecture will allow users to operate across commercial and government SATCOM networks and multiple orbital regimes, creating an end-to-end multi-layered solution resilient to network congestion, intentional and unintentional interference and cyber threats – even in highly-contested environments. The Link 16-capable LEO satellite will allow Link 16 networks to leverage the resilient, global connectivity capabilities of the HAN and share information with other warfighters, anywhere in the world.
Today, Viasat offers an extensive portfolio of Link 16 terminal configurations and form factors. Link 16 communications networks provide the U.S. and international allies with greater situational awareness by exchanging digital data over a common data link that is continuously and automatically updated in real-time, reducing the chance of fratricide or duplicate assignments, while significantly enhancing mission effectiveness.
The XVI program is a key step towards making a global Link 16-enabled LEO satellite constellation, transforming Link 16 from a Line-of-Sight (LOS) to a Beyond Line-of-Site (BLOS) network, providing U.S. and allied military forces with ubiquitous, secure, high-speed and resilient communications necessary to improve the common operating picture across the global battlespace.
Ken Peterman, President, Government Systems, Viasat, said that the XVI award highlights the company's technology leadership in Link 16 and space-borne tactical communications. The firm's innovative spacecraft design and development, coupled with expertise in next-generation tactical datalinks and cybersecurity, places Viasat in a unique position to address the Department of Defense's urgent need for a fast-to-market, cost-effective, space-based Link 16 solution to maintain a technological edge in contested environments.