Military Sector Business Grows for Iridium Satellite

Iridium® Satellite is pleased to announce that its military sector business continues to show outstanding growth with cumulative Department of Defense (DoD) subscribers reaching 31,000. Military traffic through Iridium’s satellite network is up more than nine percent (an increase of almost 10 percent over last year). This growth is 300 percent more than what Iridium planned for this market segment at the outset of the year.

“Iridium is well-suited to meet the unique needs of warfighters because of their constant movements around the globe,” said Lt. Gen. John Campbell, U.S. Air Force (retired), executive vice president, government affairs, Iridium. “Iridium is the only mobile satellite service provider offering ubiquitous pole-to-pole coverage with no service gaps anywhere on the planet. In addition, Iridium offers not only secure, global voice communication, but also asset tracking, remote monitoring and telemetry reporting of equipment and troops.”

In the past year, Iridium has introduced or enhanced military applications, including the introduction of the 9601 data modem, to the U.S. DoD through its contract with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). Based on the company’s short-burst data (SBD) messaging service, this modem is currently being used by the DoD Services, as well as many agencies in the Department of Homeland Security, for asset tracking/management and force protection.

Iridium also has participated extensively in testing its Netted Iridium service with the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Warfighting Lab. Netted Iridium is a push-to-talk voice and data communications service. It offers a reliable, rapidly deployable, over-the-horizon communications solution for the military and first responder communities.

In addition, Iridium is working with Boeing on an effort called “iGPS.” iGPS is an initiative that the U.S. government is looking at that uses the Iridium system to augment GPS signals to provide more robust anti-jam and interference protection, improved operations in restrictive environments, enhanced availability and extremely high accuracy. Technical trials are underway and have so far demonstrated the capability for iGPS to provide centimeter-level position accuracy, a significant improvement over current GPS capabilities. Boeing and Iridium are partnering to demonstrate initial capabilities of the system to the DoD by 2010.

Military Market Highlights

  • Growth in data communications support – Iridium Satellite has activated and supports approximately 700 of its 9601 data modems through its contract with DISA.
  • Military support around the world – In an ongoing Iridium effort to supply critical communications to military organizations around the world, the Swedish Armed Forces has purchased Iridium satellite services for the newly formed Nordic Battle Group. Service is scheduled to be activated at the end of 2007.
  • Not just on the ground, but on the waters and in the sky – Blue Sky Network and Iridium announced that the British Ministry of Defense is deploying Iridium satellite-based flight tracking equipment for the search-and-rescue division of the Royal Air Force (RAF). Utilizing Blue Sky Network’s D1000C and ACH1000, the RAF is capable of tracking aircraft and using satellite voice communications for search-and-rescue efforts all over the world.
  • Military expertise on Board – Adm. Dennis Blair, U.S. Navy (retired), joined the Iridium board of directors. He recently served as the president of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and was the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command from February 1999 to May 2002. As the senior U.S. military commander in the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas, he led the largest of the unified commands and directed Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force operations from India to the West Coast of the U.S.

Iridium NEXT
To serve its military and commercial customer base with enhanced services for many years to come, the company also launched the “Iridium NEXT” initiative earlier this year. NEXT is an intensive, multi-year design and development program for Iridium’s next-generation satellite constellation. NEXT will maintain Iridium’s unique “life line” attributes which so many Iridium customers count on – pole-to-pole coverage, security, availability and reliability. Through NEXT, Iridium plans to offer a flexible array of services, from high-bandwidth data to voice and short messaging services, enabling new applications for users. NEXT will feature an IP-based architecture. This will leverage broad-based technology enhancements from the industry, enable customers to integrate applications efficiently into NEXT, and ensure upgrading flexibility. Iridium will also engineer the network to support communications with other space-based assets. Finally, NEXT will maintain the company’s unique and all-important cross-linked satellite architecture. Iridium recently announced six new NEXT partners – its core team of industry experts to evaluate key technical issues related to NEXT. Iridium also released a NEXT Request for Information (RFI) to additional potential partners interested in participating in the design, development and deployment of the network.

While laying the foundation for the future, Iridium continues to introduce important enhancements to its current constellation with initiatives to offer higher-speed services, as well as new opportunities for data services and embedded systems. In addition to network equipment sustainment and system upgrades, Iridium has been investing in new infrastructure to add features and to build in redundancy, including new ground stations in Fairbanks, AK and Svalbard, Norway.

About Iridium Satellite
Iridium Satellite LLC is the only provider of truly global satellite voice and data solutions with complete coverage of the earth (including oceans, airways and Polar Regions). Iridium delivers essential communications services to and from remote areas where no other form of communication is available. The Iridium constellation consists of 66 low-earth orbiting (LEO), cross-linked satellites and has multiple in-orbit spares. The constellation operates as a fully meshed network and is the largest commercial satellite constellation in the world. The Iridium service is ideally suited for industries such as maritime, aviation, government/military, emergency/humanitarian services, mining, forestry, oil and gas, heavy equipment, transportation and utilities. The company designs, builds and sells its services, products and solutions through a worldwide network of more than 150 partners.