The NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency delivered essential satellite coverage during tropical climate trials undertaken by the German Navy from 7 March to 16 April 2020.
When planning the test campaign, which took the newest addition to the German fleet to Caribbean waters, the German Navy realized national satellite communications (SATCOM) assets would not cover the test region. The Navy reached out to NATO to ask if the Alliance could deliver connectivity.
“Our capable experts reacted quickly to respond to the German Navy’s request and deliver the required service,” said Antonio Calderon, Chief of Network Services and IT Infrastructure at the NCI Agency. “This demonstrates once again that NATO is a force multiplier for Allies, delivering services that augment and support their national capabilities wherever they are.”
It took only two weeks from the first request to ensure connectivity via NATO SATCOM.
“The NCI Agency reacted with extraordinary speed and efficiency,” said German Navy Captain Thomas Ackermann. “Effective bandwidth and connectivity were excellent throughout the test campaign and made a big contribution to the successful conclusion of the trials.”
NATO retains SATCOM capacity through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the Agency has signed with four Nations.
“The Agency worked in close collaboration with the four Nations to deliver a flexible solution for NATO’s needs on schedule, and on budget. Satellite communications are key to NATO operations and missions,” said Giovanni Battista Durando, SATCOM Programme Manager within Network Services and IT Infrastructure at the NCI Agency.
Upon receiving the request from the German Navy, the Agency worked with its primary customer, Allied Command Operations, to determine if there was excess capacity the Navy could use. There was, so Agency experts in Network Services and IT Infrastructure went to work to ensure the link was established in time.
“Completing this project required a team effort,” said Richard Griffiths, SATCOM deputy Service Area Owner at the NCI Agency. “The whole process is quite involved, so there was a lot of coordination. The main rush is getting all of this coordination sorted.”
The SATCOM Space Segment Team, in Mons, Belgium, planned, computed and issued the satellite access authorization for the ship. They also provided the technical lead on the project.
“Several Agency teams worked hand in hand to make sure the customer was quickly provided with a robust and reliable connection, which brought a major contribution in the successful ship’s mission,” said Angelo Ricciardi, SATCOM Space Segment Service Manager at the Agency.
Establishing the satellite link required specific hardware, which had to be located and shipped. The Agency’s CIS Sustainment Support Centre, the depot for CIS equipment to support NATO’s ongoing global operations and planned exercises, located and shipped the necessary equipment.
The hardware was then installed at one of NATO’s Satellite Ground Terminals.
“Additional support was provided by the Transmission Team, which takes the SATCOM signal up to the terrestrial network. And this project would not have been possible without the Network Control Centre, which monitors and controls the SATCOM and network links 24/7,” said Morgane Belot, Principal Assistant in SATCOM at the NCI Agency.
This was not the first time the Agency supported the German Navy, and the Agency stands ready to support any similar request from NATO Nations in the future.
“Without a doubt, this success motivates us to continue our work and improve ourselves for the next challenges to come,” Durando said. “NSII is continuing to ‘connect the dots’ for NATO in the digital world.”