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ViaSat Streams HD Video with Ultra Small Airborne Satcom Terminal


April 10, 2012


Following previous ground testing, successful flight tests by ViaSat Inc.  have verified the industry's highest performance for a mobile satellite broadband system using ultra-small aperture antennas. U.S. Special Forces (USSOCOM) and other service representatives witnessed an ISR exercise that streamed full motion, HD video over an airborne Ka-band satellite link, while also providing enough bandwidth for a concurrent video conference and Voice over IP (VOIP) phone calls.

After taking off in Carlsbad, the aircraft traveled to an eastern San Diego County test range, exercising the broadband network mission applications during typical ISR aircraft maneuvers. The airborne satcom system featured ArcLight® 2 mobile broadband terminals and a VR-12 Ka-band 12-inch tracking antenna from ViaSat. Test equipment measured 7 Mbps throughput on the air-to-ground link and 1Mbps on the ground to air link as the applications were streamed back into secure government networks for end-to-end verification.


The antenna system was integrated within the tail assembly of a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft and flown under contract with Sierra Nevada Corporation. For this satellite and ground equipment configuration, including a network hub with a 1.2 meter antenna and 2 watt power amplifier, the satellite network operated at various data rates within the 8 Mbps capacity limits of the network. Even higher data rates are possible with larger ground antennas or high throughput Ka-band satellites, such as the 140 Gbps ViaSat-1 recently launched over North America.


"While conducting C4ISR missions today, our users require the ability to positively identify targets such as vehicles, individuals, and items carried by individuals," said Jim Herren, USSOCOM. "The higher data rates made possible by the VR-12 Ka antenna and ArcLight 2 modem will allow us, for the first time, the ability to utilize high-definition, full motion video and positively identify potential targets from manned C4ISR platforms."


"We designed the VR-12 Ka antenna as a form/fit replacement for our Ku system to enable quick field changes between Ka and Ku," added Larry Taylor deputy GM, ViaSat Global Mobile Broadband. "The intent is to provide flexibility for our airborne customers who need high data rate connectivity options for their missions with minimal impact on aerodynamics."