Year: 2012

Type: UHF Payload

Sponsor: Australian Defence Force

Operator: Intelsat

Manufacturer: Boeing

Spacecraft: Intelsat 22 (IS-22)


UHF satellite communications are critical to the ADF warfighter and are widely deployed by the Australian Defence Forces because they enable the use of small, mobile terminals favored by ground, sea and air forces for tactical communications.  Unlike many other frequency bands, UHF works well in urban, jungle, and mountainous terrain and is indifferent to weather conditions.  ADF access to the current US military UHF fleet was based upon availability and competed with other coalition needs. As such, the Commonwealth of Australia (CoA) executed the most cost efficient and rapid deployment of UHF capability via a hosted payload on-board the Intelsat 22 (IS-22) spacecraft. The acquisition was initiated with Intelsat in 2Q2009 and launched in 2Q2012 to 72°E latitude, a 3-year duration from contract award to operational services.  The UHF hosted payload on the IS-22 satellite enabled the CoA to be a key coalition partner within the Indian Ocean region. The CoA, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US DOD, has offered UHF capability within this key area of regard in exchange for UHF capability from the US DOD in the Pacific Ocean region.

“…Australia and the United States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on sharing their narrowband UHF communications resources.”

“The arrangement will result in significant savings for both nations, provide a more robust communications capability for the warfighter and add another dimension to the Australian-US Alliance.”
–    Press Release, Office of the Minister of Defence

April 28, 2010
Domestic benefits associated with the acquisition of the UHF hosted payload have yielded savings for the Australian taxpayer.

“…the Australian contract seeks to fundamentally change the way public dollars are used to lease commercial capacity in orbit. Called “piggyback payloads,” because they supplement traditional commercial satellite services, such arrangements envision a collection of transponders set side specifically for government uses.”
–    Asian Wall Street Journal
April 26, 2009
“Compared to launching its own satellite Defence will save over $150m through this initiative and is a good example of the types of reforms required to ensure the most efficient use of Government finances.”
–    Office of the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP

The ADF’s UHF Hosted Payload on board IS-22 provides a significant increase in the number of users that can access SATCOM services. Today, UHF channels operating in dedicated mode, allow for only 1 user/access per UHF channel. However, operating the ADF’s UHF hosted payload with the latest advances in UHF SATCOM increases the number of users up to 280 accesses (vs. 20 accesses when operating in dedicated mode).