The ARC to Success

Dave DavisDave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe 

The recent Global MilSatcom conference was a roaring success.

For the uninitiated, Global MilSatcom is THE annual catch up on all things military and Satcom. As always, there are generic themes that weave their way through the conference and this year was no exception, with notable mentions going to Comms-on-the-Move (COTM), Aero platforms, the additional requirements for training and welfare, SWaP, and of course UAS.

However, there are constant themes that reappear on an annual basis and this is summed up using the acronym ARC, or Affordability, Resilience and Capability. Some even suggested we should start a drinking game and every time a speaker mentions one of these three, we all sip from a glass of our chosen tipple. If we did do this, I doubt many people would make it to day two of the conference.

Affordability-Resilience-Capability

Affordability is absolutely key in today’s constrained budgets. I, for one, was surprised to see the figures on the declining percentage of GDP spent on military communications. Don’t get me wrong, a smaller percentage of an increasing amount is still very, very significant, but it’s an indicator of the economic times and even the mighty BRICS still have to be frugal and get the most bang for their buck.

iDirect is known widely for its bandwidth efficiencies and getting the most out of your MHz, but it’s also important to consider time spent training and commissioning, reduction of management overhead and through life costs, or total cost of ownership to make satellite access an affordable network technology by giving flexible access to space (http://blog.idirect.net/vsat-mission-for-defence-network-interoperability/).

Resilience is critical in a high-pressure environment and much discussion was had at the conference about how much protection is enough. A lot of the focus was on denial through jamming. However, there are always the ever present threats of interception, geo-location and deception, to name but a few.

Total protection comes at a price and only the high-end solutions would protect against the most “exotic jammers” (a personal favourite phrase from the conference). Affordability plays a role in this and as with most things, it’s a balance and that’s why ARC must be considered in the round.

iDirect offers inherent security options to improve resilience, but in addition to these, some of the day-to-day protection against atmospheric conditions and the challenges of mobility also offer some unintended protection against potential threats.

Finally comes capability, but again it’s as important, not more important, than affordability and resilience. Capability is measured in many terms and it comes down to the customer requirements. That’s why the Systems Engineers at iDirect hone in on capturing these requirements and making sure that they understand the needs of the customer’s specific use case to be able to provide the capability required. Capability also has to be measured to ensure effectiveness. We all know about SMART targets and the M, or “Measurable” requires a management system that is fit for purpose.

The themes and topics at next year’s GlobalMilSatcom will no doubt be many and varied, but I’m willing to bet that ARC will once again be at the heart of what we’ll all be discussing.