Keeping NATO's deployed forces connected

By Luca Campanile 3/16/2017
NATO's IT arm and its Industry partners are progressing work in Belgium and Italy to upgrade satellite stations that link NATO's deployed forces, including the Alliance's Sea operation to help stem the flow of human trafficking in the Aegean Sea.

The NCI Agency and its Industry partners are progressing work in Belgium and Italy to upgrade satellite stations that link NATO's deployed forces, including the Alliance's Sea Guardian operation to help stem the flow of human trafficking in the Aegean Sea.

The Satellite Ground Station project is procuring two new multi-antenna stations on the sites of existing terminals in Belgium and Italy, and will upgrade two further stations in Greece and Turkey.  It will also provide options for industrial support arrangement for the resulting capability for 20 years.

A vital link

Brigadier General Luigi Tomaiuolo, Director of Service Operations of the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency, recently paid a visit to the Italian site, observing the implementation phase of the works.

During the visit, Lieutenant Colonel Diego Fasoli, Commander of the site, explained the construction and upgrade process and the progress of the works to date.  Leonardo is the prime contractor for the work, along with Telespazio, ViaSat, Saint-Gobain, Siemens, and the support of local contractors.

Following the current physical infrastructure works there will be a technical upgrade of the system with a total four antennas that will be managed from a common control room.

Later this year, the NCI Agency will be competing a major contract, worth some 1.5 billion EUR for satellite bandwidth capacity, as well as a 200 million EUR contract for satellite terminals to support NATO's Response Force, designed to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice.  Details will be briefed at the Agency's upcoming Industry conference, NITEC17.

"We have a static infrastructure that provides connectivity to our commands throughout NATO, located throughout our 28 nations. That static piece is one we sustain from day to day, and an important piece of that static communications is satellite. Deployments for operations have become a somewhat primary use of satellite communications for NATO.

We depend on industry heavily. Of course, we do have our ability from a ground infrastructure perspective to allocate bandwidth and do the separations that are necessary to get our abilities to deployed forces," said Dr Gregory Edwards, Director of Infrastructure Services at the NCI Agency about the importance of satellite capabilities for NATO.

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