Airbus will place a dedicated Ultra High Frequency (UHF) military communications payload on board the EUTELSAT 36D telecommunications satellite, which will provide a new UHF service to a variety of armed forces, including those of European and NATO countries.
In a late-June announcement Airbus stated that with the UHF frequency a relatively scarce orbital resource, the offering will make up for the capacity shortage around the world. The company has already signed the first firm orders for this capacity, ahead of the satellite’s scheduled launch in the first half of 2021.
The UHF payload will be operated from Airbus’s Network Operations Centre in Toulouse. Its 18 UHF channels will enable up to 200 simultaneous communications over Europe, the Middle East, Africa, large parts of Asia, as well as the Atlantic Ocean (to eastern Brazil) and the Indian Ocean (to western Australia).
Military UHF satellite communications (satcom) are used by the armed forces for operations on land, at sea and in the air, and have a high level of interoperability and particularly useful for multinational and coalition operations. The UHF band is very flexible and is of particular interest to Special Forces units as it offers a lightweight, robust and secure means of battlefield communication.
Airbus stated that, given its experience in the military satcom sector, the new payload will enhance its portfolio throughout the lifespan of the satellite. The company added that it is the only armed forces private satcom operator to cover the full spectrum of military (UHF, X, Ka Mil) and commercial (L, C/Ku, Ka) frequency bands.
The EUTELSAT 36D satellite will be built by Airbus based on its Eurostar Neo platform.