Viasat has received two awards from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) through the Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP) to conduct research that will examine the use and implementation of 5G networks in the battlespace. These awards are part of the DoD $600M 5G research initiative announced last year, to explore how 5G technology can strengthen warfighting capabilities.
Viasat is working with the DoD to solve complex communications problems across multiple network domains—from satellite to cellular to government-specific networking waveforms. Specific to these contracts, Viasat will tap into its 5G wireless, networking and cybersecurity expertise and help the DoD understand how it can best utilize 5G technology to enable multi-domain operations in future joint warfighting programs, including Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) capabilities.
The awards focus on two areas:
Improving Command and Control (C2) applications and services: Viasat will provide C2 hardware packages that support Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), networking and cybersecurity software, and integrate those capabilities into tactical networks using 5G to improve visibility across the battlespace. Viasat will also explore how 5G connectivity can support bandwidth-intensive applications (e.g. ISR mapping), be leveraged to share real-time situational awareness information and be used to provide resilient cloud access to the battlefield.
5G enhanced network deployment for Agile Combat Employment (ACE) operations in contested environments: Viasat will look at rapid configuration and deployment of secure 5G nodes at the tactical edge that could be required when operating in unknown battlezones. Viasat's research will focus on understanding of configurations and capabilities for enterprise orchestration and management (how to route network data); tactical network dimensioning and planning (how to optimize network/RF planning tools); and Low Probability of Intercept/Low Probability of Detection (LPI/LPD) capabilities (how to prevent adversaries from finding the network).
"With 5G networks spreading globally and adversaries investing heavily in this capability, it is critical for the U.S. and its allies to understand and explore the potential of 5G technology in supporting warfighting operations," said Craig Miller, president, Viasat Government Systems. "The rapid transport of information and data across domains is critical to advancing multi-domain operations and enabling joint force operations. Enhanced 5G bandwidth and connectivity for bases and mobile platforms at the tactical edge can offer commanders greater visibility to enhance C2 operations and increase situational awareness for the warfighter."
For these research experiments, which will be conducted over three years, Viasat aims to use its Expeditionary Lightweight Integrated Tactical Edge (ELITE) Kit solution with a 5G gateway to support the C2 application experiments, as well as its System Integration Lab (SIL) to establish an emulation environment for network dimensioning, planning and radio access network modeling. Additionally, Viasat's NetAgility product will offer the DoD multi-path transport and network management support. Viasat will also create a 5G digital twin model to test rapid network configuration and modification and utilize 5G millimeter wave and Free Space Optics links to deliver high bandwidth needs.