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May 30th, 2019

Viasat's 18-Inch Ka-band Antenna Offers Highest Connectivity Data Rates for Government UAVs and Business Aviation

Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT) has a new Global Aero Terminal which is an addition to Viasat's Ka-band aero antenna systems. The Global Aero Terminal-5518 serves to provide in-flight connectivity (IFC) services on government and business aviation aircraft — from government-focused Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and fixed-wing military platforms to VIP business and corporate jets.

According to Viasat, the compact terminal delivers the industry’s highest data rates for an 18-inch antenna, providing the highest forward link capacity (to the aircraft)  and highest return link capacity (from the aircraft) to perform high-bandwidth applications such as advanced video streaming services. The Viasat GAT-5518 is available today, and was shipped ahead of schedule to key government and military customers.

The GAT-5518 terminal has passed muster having completed the rigorous Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) D0-160G certification process. This certification confirms the terminal’s ability to provide reliable IFC services across the full International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Ka-band spectrum, which includes commercial and Mil-Ka frequency bands; across varying polarity layouts; across multiple orbital regimes, including both medium earth orbit (MEO) and geosynchronous (GEO) satellite systems; and across multiple network and ground infrastructures. The terminal is also expected to be forward-compatible, enabling it to leverage current and future Viasat satellite systems, as well as operate over third party satellite networks.

Global Aero Terminal 5518

Use cases include

Government and military mission sets:

  • The GAT-5518 can meet a variety of requirements for UAV and fixed-wing aircraft, from performing real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR);
  • enabling operational-support airlift missions
  • moving personnel and equipment across the battlefield
  • providing advanced situational awareness
  • en-route mission planning
  • MedEvac and telemedicine services
  • search and rescue
  • border and maritime surveillance, and more


Additionally, the terminal was designed to leverage Viasat’s Hybrid Adaptive Network (HAN) architecture, which allows users to seamlessly operate across commercial and government SATCOM networks. The HAN architecture conceives an end-to-end network that provides mitigation against congestion situations, intentional and unintentional interference sources and cyber threats through implementation of layered resiliency in highly-contested environments.

Business and corporate jet applications:

  • The GAT-5518 terminal delivers an enhanced solution for business and corporate aircraft, providing VIP passengers with superior performance for live video teleconferencing
  • voice calls
  • corporate VPN access
  • web browsing
  • audio, video and live TV streaming among other applications.


Kent Leka, general manager, Antenna Systems at Viasat shared that they've focused on delivering advanced antenna systems that meet in-flight connectivity requirements across multiple airframe and end-user types. In designing and developing new aero terminals they take into consideration the broad user base and application sets to ensure the terminal’s viability across various markets. They’re confident the compact GAT-5518 will provide broader operational flexibility to enhanced reliability and resiliency to meet the diverse needs of business and military users.

The terminal is made up of a two-axis steerable, two-way Ka-band antenna with an integrated antenna control unit (ACU), an antenna power supply unit and a modem. The GAT-5518’s antenna can be tail, fuselage or hatch-mounted.