Home Business Telecommunications Inmarsat, Cobham join forces on unmanned aerial vehicle satellite comms service

Inmarsat, Cobham join forces on unmanned aerial vehicle satellite comms service

Inmarsat and Cobham SATCOM have put on show at a US industry event the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband unmanned aerial vehicle (SB-UAV) satellite communications service as the vehicles become the fastest-growing sector of the aerospace industry.

The launch announcement took place at AUVSI XPONENTIAL, an event in Texas dedicated to drones, intelligent robotics and unmanned systems.

Shaun Flanagan, sales director at AERO-SATCOM, an Inmarsat channel launch partner for the new service, says governments are increasingly looking to harness the advantages that unmanned vehicles can provide.

“Unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) is one of the fastest growing markets for Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) and, due to the constraints on equipment size, weight and power consumption for this type of aircraft, it is crucial that the providers of airborne MSS equipment and satellite services be creative in supporting the applications required by ISR operators," he said.

“Cobham’s AVIATOR UAV 200 combined with SB-UAV, Inmarsat’s Class 4 SwiftBroadband service, allow AERO-SATCOM to meet the needs of this demanding market.”

According to Flanagan, the rapid development in technology and subsequent increase in capability, now sees governments deploying UAVs in operations as diverse as border protection, surveying, infrastructure inspections, emergency services and police surveillance.

Billed as the world’s smallest aeronautical satellite terminal, the AVIATOR UAV 200 is claimed to redefine UAV satcom connectivity by integrating everything into one compact, lightweight box.

Weighing just 1.45 kg, Flanagan says AVIATOR UAV 200 is 76% lighter than anything comparable on the market and a perfect fit for the smaller UAV’s favoured by governments.

Flanagan says Inmarsat has worked to complement the tiny terminal with the release of the SB-UAV service – an Inmarsat SwiftBroadband Class 4 service which provides up to 200 kbps data for full, real-time control of the UAV whilst also allowing real time image or video transfer in parallel.

Andy Start, president of Inmarsat Global Government, says the company had determined that a key enabler for the effectiveness of increased UAV deployment in the government market lay in the “efficient transfer of information between these vehicles and decision makers”.

“By extending the ability to retrieve information off a UAV beyond line of sight, the value of each sortie is extended exponentially – allowing increased operational agility through substantially improved situational awareness.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).