Intelsat joins Air Force DEUCSI project to create aircraft internet from commercial satellite constellations

Jan. 8, 2024
DEUCSI seeks to find new ways of distributing information among land, sea, and air forces quickly to support high-speed decision-making.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio – Space communications experts at Intelsat will help the U.S. Air Force capitalize on commercial space internet satellites to develop a new lightweight communications terminals for military aircraft.

Officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, announced a $9.1 million contract in late December to Intelsat General Communications LLC in McLean, Va., for the Defense Experimentation Using Commercial Space Internet (DEUCSI) project.

Intelsat will develop small and lightweight satellite communications (SATCOM) systems that use commercial space internet constellations that easily integrate onto aircraft.

These airborne SATCOM systems will provide resilient, high throughput, globally available, and reliable communications using commercial internet satellites that operate in low, medium, and geostationary Earth orbits.

Related: Panasonic Avionics announces expansion to SATCOM network for in-flight connectivity

Intelsat joins the Raytheon Technologies Corp. (RTX) Raytheon segment in McKinney, Texas; the L3Harris Technologies C5 Integrated Systems segment in Camden, N.J.; and the Northrop Grumman Mission Systems segment in San Diego; the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas; and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. on the DEUCSI project.

DEUCSI seeks to find new ways of distributing information among land, sea, and air forces quickly to support high-speed decision-making by moving and sharing data seamlessly among fixed and mobile operating locations using constantly available, high-bandwidth, beyond-line-of-sight communications.

DEUCSI space-based capability will be called path-agnostic communications because its users will be able to communicate reliably to any location in the world without explicitly specifying which nodes of a communication network to use.

Related: Airbus selects Panasonic for SATCOM-based in-flight connectivity

Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and L3Harris will seek to establish the ability to communicate with Air Force and other military systems via several different commercial space internet constellations using common user terminal hardware.

The vision for path-agnostic communications is becoming possible due to the burgeoning commercial space industry, Air Force officials say. Several commercial companies plan to establish space internet constellations consisting of hundreds to thousands of commercial satellites, each to create global internet services.

This approach differs radically from traditional military satellite communications programs in which the government typically specifies and funds every aspect of the program, Air Force researchers point out.

Related: Sierra Nevada selects ThinKom's SATCOM tech for its RAPCON-X aircraft

Instead, taking advantage of the commercial space internet will concentrate government efforts on the few areas that are unique to Air Force applications.

The project has three phases: establish connectivity between several Air Force sites using commercial demonstration satellites and terminals; expand connectivity to many Air Force assets by proliferating user terminals to several locations and vehicle types; and special experiments to address military-unique requirements not otherwise met by commercial space internet vendors.

On this contract Intelsat will do the work in McLean, Va., and should be finished by November.2024. For more information contact Intelsat online at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

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