Intelsat is a commercial satellite provider, who launches and maintains global coverage for its customers with over 50 satellites. One interesting wrinkle is a program that lets customers pay to host partial or full payloads on Intelsat’s birds, locking in recurring service revenues and defraying the cost of deployment.
Australia is a US military partner for the Wideband Global SATCOM program, buying WGS-6 and gaining access to the constellation’s services under Joint Project 2008, Phase 4. In April 2009, a decision was made to add a partial communications payload on Intelsat’s IS-22 UHF satellite, under JP 2008, Phase 5A. That is now a full UHF payload, under a revised contract – and the USA will benefit, as well…
Intelsat’s IS-22 UHF will be positioned at 72° East longitude to cover the Indian Ocean Region, an area of obvious interest to Australia, and to the USA as well. Intelsat plans to launch it in Q1 2012.
The satellite, to be built by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, will be based on a Boeing 702B bus. The 702 bus is also used by the WGS constellation. IS-22 will have 48 C-band and 24 Ku-band 36 MHz equivalent transponders, plus a UHF payload with 18 25-kHz channels. Under their agreement with Australia, that entire 18-channel UHF payload will reserved for the ADF and the US military.
The UHF band is widely deployed for military use because of its adaptability to small, mobile terminals used by ground, sea and air forces.
Contracts & Key Events
April 28/10: Australia announces government approval to exercise an option in the April 2009 contract, and purchase IS-22’s entire UHF communications payload. The A$ 193 million option brings the total IS-22 payload purchase cost to A$ 475.1 million (currently $438 million). Australia’s defence minister Sen. Faulkner is quoted as saying that:
“Purchasing the full satellite payload will improve operational effectiveness and enhance the communications support to Australia’s deployed forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan.”
Australia won’t be the only ones. The Pentagon’s Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Cartwright, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on sharing narrowband UHF communications resources. The USA will be able to use IS-22 as additional communications capacity over Afghanistan etc., and in return it will give Australia access to American satellites over the Pacific.
April 27/09: As part of a hosted payload contract with Australia’s DoD valued at approximately USD $167 million, Intelsat will arrange for the construction and integration of a UHF payload with its IS-22 satellite. The UHF payload will be compliant with U.S. Department of Defense Mil-Std-188-181 and Volna Treaty (Russian) requirements for interoperability.
The ADF is purchasing part of the UHF payload, and has an option to purchase the remainder. Under the agreement, Intelsat is also expected to operate the ADF payload and provide related services for 15 years following the launch.
The ADF selected Intelsat to provide the satellite payload following a process of competitive source selection that began in August 2008.
- Boeing – 702HP (High Power Satellite Bus). The 702HP is a popular commercial base, and is also the basis for the US/Australian Wideband Global SATCOM constellation.
- Boeing – 702MP (Medium Power Satellite Bus). Introduced in 2009.