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On Thursday, listed global satellite and communications giant Viasat announced it has received an award from U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) through its Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP) to conduct research on the use of 5G to support communications for Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO). The research will focus on network enhancements, command and control (C2) and delivering advanced processing through the integration of digital twin and agile software defined network (SDN) capabilities.

According to a company announcement, this marks the third award Viasat has received under the DoD’s $600 million research initiative partnering with industry and academic leaders to explore and advance the use of 5G technology on the battlefield.

Viasat is working with the Department of Defense to support development of advanced communications and enable concept of operations (CONOPs) for warfighters. Per Viasat, achieving secure, resilient communications across multiple transports in expeditionary environments is a challenge due to the need to rapidly set up and tear down the network, work across multiple networks and classifications, and operate in austere and contested cyber and electronic warfare (EW) conditions. Through this new round of research, Viasat will explore how 5G networking and partner solutions can integrate to support EABO missions, including needs for Long Range Precision Fires, Forward Arming and Re-Fueling Points (FARP), and persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

Using a phased approach, Viasat will address specific application areas of 5G dynamic radio frequency (RF) spectrum and adaptive network planning and management to enable Low Probability of Intercept/Low Probability of Detection (LPI/LPD) through enhanced deployment of 5G nodes for EABO. This research will also look at how to enhance 5G RF and network planning with digital twin models, use 5G mobile edge compute (MEC) to enable tactical edge compute with artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as how to rapidly deploy and operate a mobile infrastructure in a dynamic and contested environment.

“Like the DoD, we see the significant potential for 5G to enhance the warfighter’s ability to produce, consume, and make sense of mission critical data at the point and time of need in contested and congested environments to support JADC2 enablement,” said Craig Miller, president of Viasat Government Systems. “The ability to swiftly move information and data across the battlespace is essential to the multi-domain and joint-force operations needs of the future. The addition of 5G bandwidth and network management capabilities will support C2 for specific missions and greater visibility across highly dispersed forces in EABO and littoral operations in contested environments.”

These research experiments, which will be conducted over four years, will use the Viasat Expeditionary Lightweight Integrated Tactical Edge (ELITE) Kit solution to integrate defense tactical applications with a variety of existing and emerging tactical communication networks to bring an enhanced on-site C2 and situational awareness (SA) capability. The research will also leverage Viasat’s 5G and tactical networking System Integration Lab (SIL) to integrate digital twin capabilities using network modeling and emulation software for enhanced network planning and simulation. Additionally, Viasat’s NetAgility product will be integral in enabling intelligent network routing and management applications, combining numerous transports to simplify network orchestration.

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