Intelsat, operator of one of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial networks, will develop and test multi-orbit satellite communications (satcom) systems on several different Air Force aircraft following the award of a new contract from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

The deal is part of the Defense Experimentation Using Commercial Space Internet program to address the government’s need for resilient communications for aircraft, using multi-band, multi-orbit implementations that can seamlessly be switched between orbits at a moment’s notice. The contract is for one year and has a contract value of $9 million.

“Intelsat’s offering is unique because we have a virtualized network. This allows for quick integration, increased resiliency and protection which is essential in contested operations,” said Intelsat’s President of Government Solutions David Broadbent. “This virtual network can be changed on the fly and works with new equipment as well as legacy systems allowing the user to make critical changes based on mission needs.”

Intelsat’s Resilient multi-Orbit Airborne Module (Intelsat ROAM) platform will be used for this mission. Intelsat ROAM will be integrated on aircraft selected by AFRL, utilizing different bands and constellations in multiple orbits to enable mission success and ease of use for operators without major hardware configuration changes.