Tags: military

Modern Military Communications Discussed at Milcom 2016

Posted on Tuesday, November 15

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Norsat’s US Sales team hosted many guests both military and civilian at Norsat’s booth at the 35th annual Milcom show November 1-3 in Baltimore, Maryland. Co-hosted by AFCEA International and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), MILCOM continues to be the premier international conference for military communications and is the one conference where command, control and communication challenges are presented and discussed end to end – from research and development through existing solutions to future needs.

The theme for the 2016 show was “Securing Communications at the Speed of Cyber” and offered visitors the opportunity to understand the breadth of requirements, the pace of change and the state of play in a variety of C4I markets serving DOD, as well as federal agencies and multi-national entities.

One of the keynotes delivered by Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, USA, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) discussed that cybersecurity is an important part of the future of warfighting. When he talked about where we are going in Cyber Defense, Mobility and Innovation, reducing SWAP (size, weight and power) for the warfighter was a highlighted theme.

Maj. Gen. Earl Matthews, USAF, (Ret.), former director of cyberspace operations and chief information security officer for the Air Force and now vice president for Enterprise Security Solutions, U.S. public sector, Hewlett Packard Enterprise stated, “With technology developing at what seems like warp speed, new systems will have a higher data processing capacity and greater speed and be able to leverage greater bandwidth. These systems are going to have to be prepared to change frequency dependencies … because this is the place they are going to operate in the electromagnetic spectrum. Physical maneuvers exists in cyberspace.”

At the show, Norsat showcased our GlobeTrekker 2.0, the world’s most intelligent fly-away satellite terminal and the ultra-portable, rapidly deployable Ranger terminal, along with our industry leading size, weight and power ATOM series of Block Upconverters (BUCs) and Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPAs). Norsat’s products come in various frequency bands and address some of the overall themes presented throughout the 3 days conference. Overall the show was successful for Norsat and we look forward to participating in the Milcom 2017 show and other future AFCEA events and programs.

milcom-booth-_afcea-photoPhoto courtesy of and copyright
Michael Carpenter Photography

Norsat in Full Force at Premier International Conference for Military Communications

Posted on Friday, November 6

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Norsat participated in the 34th annual Milcom 2015 show last week in Tampa, Florida. Milcom is the premier international conference for military communications. “Leveraging Technology – The Joint Imperative” was the theme for this year’s event and there was no shortage of interesting and educational keynotes, panels and technical sessions that explored and defined the benefits that joint-level collaboration brings to current and future communication challenges and addressed the critical role communications plays in military readiness and operations.

The Tampa location is ideal for this discussion, with close proximity to the MacDill Air Force Base military community, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the 6th Air Mobility Wing. MILCOM offers industry the opportunity to discuss communications technologies and services with decision makers from all branches of the armed forces, the Department of Defense, federal agencies and multinational forces.

Norsat’s satellite sales team was in full force showcasing several of our top satellite communications solutions: GlobeTrekker 2.0, the world’s most intelligent fly-away satellite terminal; Rover, Norsat’s ultra-lightweight fly-away satellite terminal; CFK-100E compact fly-away kit; CFK-4200 Emergency Communications Kit; and the ATOM series of Block Upconverters (BUCs) and Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPAs). Norsat was excited to talk to customers and saw considerable interest from customers on our new low Ku-band BUCs designed for use with the FSS Appendix 30B satellite links.IMG_6537



During the show, Norsat met up with Ken Murphy at the iDirect social event on Tuesday night. Ken was a long-term Norsat portable terminal customer that has now moved on to work for Comtech as their Director of Government Programs. Ken was working in Belgium when his teams deployed Norsat’s 1.8m and 2.4m SigmaLink terminals and 1m compact Rover terminals for allied forces in the region. It was great to catch up with Ken and we wish him the best of luck in his new role.

Norsat and the US Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Posted on Monday, July 21

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Tikrit 2 Tikrit

We recently caught up with one of our military customers and he explained to us how Norsat’s technology has provided vital communication links for the US Army. SSG Allen is a former Staff Sergeant for the Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. He worked with Norsat Newslink terminals to deliver content to military families and the public through news affiliates using DVIDS (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System). 

SSG Allen was based at a Multi-National Division in Northern Iraq. That particular division used a Norsat Newslink terminal to provide real-time communication with the US and to broadcast interviews from high-ranking officials about  military activities, concerns and special events in-theater.The Mobile Public Affairs’ Norsat Newslink terminal also enabled their detachment to “tell the soldier’s story”, enabling them to give b-roll and packages to news affiliates. 

SSG Allen commented that these lines of communication were key in increasing morale in the Soldiers and their families by allowing the transmission of “shout outs”. Through these broadcast messages, Soldiers were given the chance to regularly send love to their families.

At Norsat, we take pride in being a leading provider of innovative communication solutions that enable the transmission of data, audio and video for remote and challenging applications. This is just one example of how our technology helps provide communications around the globe in a variety of unique situations. 

Customer Service in Action: Short notice connectivity from Tonga to Atlanta

Posted on Tuesday, January 8

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Our customer support engineers work tirelessly to ensure your communications and connectivity needs are met anytime and anywhere.  We could list dozens of examples of their great work, but a recent success with a short notice request from a Public Affairs detachment with the US Military is worth shouting about.

The Problem:
The detachment had a Norsat fly-away terminal and needed to conduct an HD broadcast from Tonga back to Atlanta, but unfortunately their terminal didn’t have standard DVB-S, and we couldn’t rely on the existing broadcast infrastructure in Tonga. Additionally, there were no satellites that would cover Tonga and Norsat, or a teleport operated by the customer.  The public affairs detachment reached out to our customer service team with a 48 hour deadline for broadcast and the team quickly began searching for a creative solution. 

Our Solution: The team determined that they could get airtime and land a teleport in Australia, so they prepared a care package consisting of a Radyne modem (to communicate with the fly-away terminal), a frequency converter, and a Cisco Router.  The Cisco router was configured to provide internet connectivity to the terminal, and allow the HD content to be streamed over the internet to the customer’s Hub in Atlanta Georgia.  The configuration also initiated a VPN tunnel back to Norsat HQ so that customer service could remote control the entire system from Vancouver, reducing the chances of a problem in Australia.

The entire kit was assembled in a single fly-away rack chassis, integrated and pre-cabled so that in Sydney they simply had to connect the equipment to power, Ethernet, and the two RF cables.  The rest was handled by Norsat customer service.

The Result: When the time came for the transmission, things went off without a hitch, and it was one of the smoothest HD broadcasts the customer had ever completed.  Thanks to the hard to work and creative thinking of our customer service team, we had a very happy customer who was able to meet their broadcast deadline!

Our knowledgeable customer service team provides 24x7x365 Elite support for customers with critical communications needs; for more information please see the datasheet below, or contact us to learn more about Elite Support.

 Support and Warranty Information

Norsat Operator Training

Posted on Monday, October 22

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Norsat offers a variety of customized training sessions to ensure our customers are completely comfortable setting up, operating and maintaining their satellite terminals and accessories.  Recently we hosted a 7 day DVIDS Technical Maintenance Course in our Vancouver office for a group from the US Marine Corps.  The course provided attendees with the skills and knowledge needed to troubleshoot, perform repairs and properly maintain their DVIDS transmitter systems. As usual, we included a combination of classroom training and hands on experience to ensure trainees left with both technical know-how and practical skills to operate their equipment with success.

The DVIDS team members were excellent students, asking great questions and keeping us on our toes.  They left the training session equipped with new skills and expertise and we wish them all the best as they deploy and use their equipment.  

We also offer on site training courses, like this recent session with the 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.  For more information about Norsat’s onsite or in office training programs and schedule, please contact us

CASE STUDY: Finnish Defence Forces

Posted on Monday, September 17

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PDF Version
Norsat has provided satellite communication equipment and services for the Finnish Defence Forces since 2009.  Before Norsat’s involvement, the Defence Forces were using an external network provider and needed a more reliable solution.  Norsat met this need with an in house communication network, which was scaled from an initial small network to a large communications hub. The network now provides a cost-effective, high speed direct connection from Finland to the Finnish Army, Navy and Air Force troops anywhere in the world. 

“Most of all, we have been pleased with the technical support and training, which has enabled us to produce reliable communications around the world, with minimum interference.”
FDF Head of Army CIS Integration Office, Captain Juha Pekka Leppänen 


The Finnish Defence Forces (FDF), comprised of the Army, Navy and Air Force, are responsible for defending national territory, supporting other national authorities in safeguarding society, and leading and implementing international crisis management operations.   More than 15 000 soldiers and civilians in the Forces are involved in deployments that include European Union and United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world. The FDF have a critical need to communicate with their deployed troops in the challenging environments in which they operate, ranging from winter temperatures of -40° C to desert highs of +50° C.  


Prior to Norsat’s involvement, the FDF were using a third party hub located outside of Finland to communicate with deployed units.  The primary problem posed by this system was the lack of reliability in the terrestrial connection between the satellite hub and the Finnish military network.  Additionally, the network was under third party control, and the FDF were forced to rely on their provider to resolve all technical issues, regardless of magnitude.

The FDF needed a more robust communication solution that would connect their troops in extreme environments.  They wanted to move away from an external communications provider and bring their network in house to ensure reliable service, strong security, and quality support.  The ideal solution needed to be scalable, so that it could be implemented in stages to validate the chosen technology, and spread capital expenditures over time. Maintaining or reducing operational expenses was also a firm requirement.


Norsat began working with the Finnish Defence Forces in 2009, during a European Union peacekeeping mission in Chad.  The army required a single C-Band satellite communications link and Norsat met their needs with a 2.4 meter transportable satellite terminal for use in Chad, and a 3.8m hub antenna located in Finland.  The Norsat network enabled a reliable, direct communications link from Chad to Finland, and a second 1.8 meter remote terminal was provided shortly thereafter.

Following the success of the network used in Chad, the FDF requested that Norsat assist them in expanding their communication network to support an on-going mission in Afghanistan.  This mission required the use of a different satellite, operating on Ku-Band, and the FDF were looking to use a more reliable network which would remain under their own control, and enable shorter reaction times. To meet this need, Norsat proposed a complete turnkey solution, including upgrading the existing system to manage bandwidth via Comtech’s Vipersat Management System, and expanding the network to a second satellite. Norsat also upgraded the existing remote terminals to be dual-band (C and Ku) capable.

After consultation with the FDF and design of the network, Norsat provided a second 3.8 meter satellite terminal hub with Ku-band capabilities to support the new satellite, and sent a customer support team onsite to install and configure the hub equipment on base in Finland.   The team ensured the new hub equipment was installed and functioning correctly and provided on-site training for technicians so that they could configure and operate the system, including the new Vipersat Management System, independently.  Norsat also provided additional portable ground terminals, equipped with dual C and Ku band connectivity, enabling easy switching between frequency bands in the field. 

As the FDF became more and more experienced with this system, Norsat proposed a number of upgrades to the hub equipment to provide for full redundancy.  After planning and testing with two hub antennas, the FDF deployed a third 3.8m hub antenna, as well as fully redundant transmit and receive systems for each of the existing hub antennas, all necessary for mission-critical operation.

The success of this network led the FDF to investigate the expansion of this solution for use in their Air Force and Navy.  In March 2012, the first ship was integrated into the existing satellite network.  To achieve this, Norsat provided the necessary equipment to upgrade the ship’s communications systems, and provided an on-site technician to ensure proper installation.  After the success of the field trial on the first ship, the Finnish Navy selected Norsat to provide the equipment required to integrate an additional four ships into the satellite network.  The Air Force has also come to rely on the system, bringing a transportable antenna as part of their command element when participating in exercises and EU obligations.

In addition to equipment supply, installation and network design , Norsat provided front line technical support including consultation on integrating the new network with within the existing infrastructure, customization of fit for purpose terminals, 24/7/365 telephone support, a dedicated customer service team, and second line network management services.  Norsat’s support engineers were frequently on site in Finland to ensure the availability of the communication network and to train the FDF on the ongoing operation and maintenance of the system.


Norsat’s communication network has improved the reliability of communications for the Finnish Defence Forces and now enables Army, Navy and Air Force to communicate from anywhere in the world, including deployments in Afghanistan, Chad, Djibouti and Lebanon.   This solution puts the FDF in full control of their communications systems, and improves network security by keeping their network in-house. 

The network was scaled from the original single communication link for the Army to a fully redundant satellite teleport that now supports the entirety of the FDF. The scalability of this network enabled the FDF to assess the suitability of the solution before agreeing to expansion, and facilitated the management of capital expenditures.  The network currently stabilizes their operating costs, and as it is expanded into the Navy and Air Force, it will begin to reduce operating costs as expensive pay-per use external satellite communication services are replaced by the fixed cost internal network.

The choice of the Vipersat Management System has been very beneficial to the FDF.  The technology provides flexibility for operating the remotes, including on-demand bandwidth allocation and mesh connectivity between remotes, and it greatly reduces the requirements on the field operators.  Additionally, the dynamic single channel per carrier (SCPC) nature of Vipersat provides for significantly better quality of service (QoS) capabilities, and allows remotes with radically different capabilities to participate in the same network.  This enables naval vessels with 1m antennas and 8 watt transmitters to participate in the same network as 2.4m antennas with 40 watt BUCs.

The hub redundancy is also crucially important to the success of the network.  Should any major component fail in operation, the system is capable of automatically falling over to a spare unit.  This is a critical feature as it allows the hub to operate unmanned for significant periods of time.

This communication solution provides a breakthrough for the Navy, as it enables access to shore-based resources that were previously unavailable while at sea.  For the first time, the Navy now has full access to the military network while at sea, including access to secure documents and emails, which will facilitate improvements in productivity and reductions in response times.  It also represents a significant cost reduction, as the Navy no longer has to rely on traditional global maritime communications providers for their day to day communications

In the field, Norsat’s rugged, portable satellite terminals consistently provide communication links in the extreme environmental conditions of desert deployments, wet conditions and cold Northern winters.  Norsat’s easy to use “LinkControl” interface has enabled FDF technicians to successfully operate in the field with minimal training and expertise.  Additionally, the portable terminals can be quickly set up without tools, an essential requirement for the FDF troops who often use the terminals in extremely cold conditions where gloves are necessary.   The dual band functionality of the terminals also enables the army to switch bands easily in the field and make communications decisions on a mission to mission basis. 

Regarding Norsat’s involvement in the satellite communications network, the FDF Head of Army CIS Integration Office, Captain Juha Pekka Leppänen stated,

“The team has been helpful, flexible and effective in helping us to meet the demanding equipment criteria of Crisis Management Operations. Most of all, we have been pleased with the technical support and training, which has enabled us to produce reliable communications around the world, with minimum interference. We look forward to continuing our personal and supportive co-operation in the future.”

For more information on Norsat’s design and installation services, portable satellite terminals, and remote network solutions, please contact us.


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