A FLEXIBLE ANSWER TO TACTICAL VSAT NEEDS
Since the end of the Operation Iraqi Freedom, and as military engagement in Afghanistan winds down, the Department of Defense is making a stated shift to lighter, faster, more tactical methods of engagement. The era of American “boots on the ground” campaigns seems to be coming to a close. According to leadership from across the DoD, and particularly in the Special Forces arena, future American military force will take the form of smaller teams on shorter, more precise missions.
This sea change has significant implications across the military – from the way soldiers are trained, to what weapons they use, to how they communicate on the battlefield. Increasingly, military forces will engage via brief deployments in remote, hostile locations, where connectivity is critical, but communications infrastructure is limited. The industry has successfully responded to this growing need for tactical communications with higher throughput by producing small, highly portable satellite antennas. Good examples of these small antennas include products like the AvL Technologies 0.96M quick deploy antenna, which has an auto-acquire feature and can be checked on an aircraft, or the 65cm/95cm Tampa Microwave Manpacks, which break down small enough to fit into a backpack for airborne missions.
Re-equipping the services to reflect this new communications need is a mammoth job, and one that will not occur quickly. There will be contracting hurdles, budgetary limitations, the question of what to do with old equipment, and myriad other concerns that apply when major shifts in US foreign policy mechanisms take place. In the meantime, US soldiers will be deploying around the world to carry out high-risk missions without the proper communications equipment.
To its credit, the Army has recognized the need for a procurement path for terminals of this size in the form of the future IDIQ contract vehicle T2C2 – Transportable Tactical Command Communications. This is a positive and necessary step in properly equipping Army forces for remote communications capabilities, but this program has not begun yet, and according to published Army needs, will be short by several hundred terminals. SOCOM has its SOFTACS Program of Record in place with L3, GATR, and SeaTel antennas that has fielded tactical equipment to many special forces units already. However, funding and basic order of issue gaps still exist, and even deployed ODA teams still face missions without the VSAT equipment they need.
Current DoD users who face the requirement for remote, high throughput communications now, with shrinking budgets and no clear path toward procuring smaller terminals, need a gap-filling solution for their mission critical connectivity.
Lepton Global Solutions has a creative solution to this pressing need. Lepton’s VSAT subscription service is designed to rapidly equip military users with new, tactical communications equipment in the face of the program of record delays and shrinking budgets. The subscription provides an equipment lease combined with satellite services, training, maintenance, warranty, and full-time technical support. By combining an end-to-end, turnkey satellite solution for one fixed monthly cost, military users are now able to use the same monthly budgets used for BGAN satellite service to acquire the complete package. In addition to the acquisition flexibility, Lepton brings a robust and highly tailorable network and offers any VSAT and baseband equipment requested by users through the subscription.
As the cost of next generation equipment increasingly exceeds procurement budgets, and Programs of Record do not field equipment quickly enough, the subscription service offers a gap-fill solution to rapidly equip forces in need.
Lepton’s model supports a vendor-agnostic platform, but we have partnered with several key manufacturers to provide the best new VSAT equipment on the market. These manufacturers include Tampa Microwave, AvL Technologies, Paradigm and we offer all equipment produced by these and other VSAT manufacturers as a part of our bundled subscription service.
Service is the second key component to the subscription service offering. We partner with regional and global service providers to build and deliver 100% customized networks on Ku-, C-, X-, and Ka- band satellites globally. As a part of a subscription, or for individual network contracts, we offer network options that include dedicated service, contended service, occasional use service, surge and contingency bandwidth, and variable CIR levels, in any region. We go to great lengths to provide the highest degree of flexibility possible to customers – our engineers attempt to accommodate all unconventional service requests.
To truly provide a turnkey solution, Lepton incorporates 24x7x365 technical support into the monthly cost of the subscription. From minor service issues to total equipment failure, Lepton’s technical support will react immediately to resolve customer issues, remotely or onsite.
Each customer has a dedicated program manager who becomes familiar with their mission and the specific equipment and service that solves the need to ensure issues or concerns are handled optimally. Tiers I-IV support for the entire solution are available around the clock.
Warranty, Training, Maintenance
As value-adds to our subscription bundle, Lepton includes onsite training for equipment and services at no extra cost, plus full hardware warranty and support for the duration of the contract. Upon contract execution, a Lepton Engineer and Program Manager meet with the customer to ensure satisfaction with and understanding of the hardware, and to conduct final testing with the client on the commissioned network.
Lepton Global suggests the subscription service model as a value-adding, cost-savings model to the government for several reasons, outlined below.
Itemized Cost Savings: In offering high-cost equipment on a leased basis, Lepton provides a baseline cost-savings to the government on hardware, and cuts back on bulk upfront expenditures.
Macro Cost Savings: By bundling equipment with other complementary goods the government must purchase in conjunction with satellite hardware, including service, warranty, training, monitoring, and technical support, Lepton consolidates multiple vendors into one, streamlining service and support and eliminating overhead costs associated with large prime contractors.
Technological Refresh: Because satellite equipment is constantly evolving technology, the government benefits from the ability to return the equipment for newer, more advanced technology prior to the end of the government’s conventional technology fielding cycle. Typically, equipment fielded by DoD cannot be replaced until well after it becomes obsolete. With Lepton’s model, new technology can be acquired as soon as industry produces it.
Rapid-Equipping Capability: For customers with immediate satellite communications needs awaiting Program of Record fielding dates in the future, Lepton’s subscription service provides an immediate gap-fill solution allowing a rapid-equipping mechanism that can ultimately be replaced by the conventional Program of Record on schedule.
For more information, please contact Rob Weitendorf.