RFA Argus has been confirmed today as the first military vessel to deploy low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet for her 400-strong crew, from global LEO communications network OneWeb and its distribution partner, Airbus.

The maritime terminal will provide low latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship anywhere in the world – even during challenging sea conditions and high-speed motions. 

The Kymeta Peregrine u8 terminal, fitted as a pilot while Argus was docked in Falmouth this summer, marks the first time that such advanced satellite-connectivity technology has been deployed on a military ship using the OneWeb network.

RFA Argus performs several key roles for the UK armed forces. She is the UK’s Primary Casualty Receiving Ship with a 100-bed hospital in times of conflict; a training vessel for military helicopters operating at sea; and she deploys as a front-line vessel around the world with helicopters to conduct counter-narcotics operations, disaster relief missions, and supporting Royal Marines amphibious raids.

Lieutenant Commander Ben Slater, from the Royal Navy’s specialist Digital unit, said: “Crew welfare and morale is a key tenet of a platform’s fighting capability. Enhanced connectivity, such as that delivered by low Earth orbit satellite networks is an area that the Royal Navy are looking to exploit. Through close collaboration with industry partners, we have been able to fit a capability onboard RFA Argus that will enable her crew to keep in touch with family and friends over the OneWeb satellite network and are looking forward to seeing how it performs at sea for the first time on a naval vessel.”

Chris Moore, VP Defence and Security at OneWeb and former 2* Royal Air Force officer says, “In the modern era of global deployments, the well-being of sailors, soldiers, aviators and civilian staff has risen to become a strategic imperative for all armed forces: it is pivotal role to generating mission effectiveness through maintaining morale. When in demanding, remote, and hazardous environments, the ability to remain connected with loved ones, access recreational resources and communicate with friends becomes vital in sustaining a resilient and motivated force. Now through OneWeb’s global constellation network and working with partners, like Airbus – we’ve shown that we can make this a reality for all.”

Ben Bridge, Airbus Defence and Space UK Chairman for Global Business and a former Royal Navy Officer, said: “Working collaboratively across the military-satellite communications ecosystem, Airbus and OneWeb have demonstrated how LEO capability can provide more resilient and richer services for those at sea. The deployment of this innovative technology reflects our commitment to providing critical connectivity solutions to the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence in the most demanding of environments, whether that be on land, sea, air or space.”

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Lisa has a degree in Media & Communication from Glasgow Caledonian University and works with industry news, sifting through press releases in addition to moderating website comments.
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David Barry
David Barry
2 months ago

Former 2*

Cynical, moi,

His business speak must have taken years of tax payer funded training.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

One web is potentially the UK’s most important strategic infrastructure. We need to make the most of it and keep Chinese and French hands off it.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Elon Musk getting to decide if Ukraine can attack Russian warships should not be a thing.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The French already own the same stake in it we do – 10% I believe.

We may have a golden share, however.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The French already have a stake in Onewb I believe – via the French Govt’s 20% stake in Eutelsat.

I’m not going to try and work out percentages, though I think after a Eutelsat-Oneweb merger both Govts will hold around 10%.

We will have a golden share, however.

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Highly unlikely we will have a golden share. That is against Conservative believe of free market provides. They removed all the golden shares for all former public sector companies years ago.

Julian
Julian
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

The original OneWeb investment definitely included a UK golden share, it was mentioned in the official press releases at the time. After the UK government diluted its holding significantly as part of the Eutelsat transactions (regrettably in my opinion since I agree with Jim about how important OneWeb is) I did read a report from what seemed to me to be a credible source (I forget what it was) that HMG still does maintain a golden share. Still having that golden share is something at least but I would have still preferred to see the UK increase rather than dramatically… Read more »

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian

Considering it was a boris/Cummings decision to save them from bankruptcy at significantly over market rate (NOA criticised the deal as did the courts), you would hope there is a golden share or we, as tax payers, have just thrown money at the other investors.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

I think the true value of this company will be seen in a bout a decade NOA and Courts like so many in Britain don’t see the bigger picture. It’s more the Michael Dell view of closing down Apple back in the 90s rather than Warren Buffett who saw the true potential and has benefited massive since. Too often we can’t see beyond our noses.

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

The courts just ruled the proper process was not followed to ensure good value for the tax payer, such as exploring options and seeing which was tbe most efficient rather than going for a contract that paid a load of money to a Conservative donor. The other investors paid less, so that is the market value that we could have paid, if we did it properly. Mates rates doesn’t work the same when your spending someone else’s money.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Johnson claimed we effectively did, so it must be true 😂

Luke Rogers
Luke Rogers
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

A whole bunch of their satellites were stuck in Russia after the collapse of the ROSCOSMOS launch arrangements.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I thought it had been sold to the French last year sadly.

Jack
Jack
2 months ago

easy to track by tiktok with a public data network attached it, good grief what are they thinking?

Andrew
Andrew
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack

You would hope the network is secure…I suppose in a war situation, you would switch it off as a last resort.

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack

Depends what it’s used for, if its r&r for the crew which is turned off during war time, who cares. If its more essential services then it’s a massive issue if it can be tracked.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

You can follow QE on trackers now so nothing new. Would indeed be different in a conflict.

Richard May
Richard May
2 months ago

I hope/assume that ships will retain an alternative communications system. That box looks like a mighty obvious target for an enemy in times of war.

farouk
farouk
2 months ago

Is it normal practice to have such an exposed cable on a quasi-warship

Steve
Steve
2 months ago

Did they solve the issue for the sat phone using the same frequency as the search radar? I assume this is going to add extra EM radiation/ interference that the radars will need to work around.

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

You can guarantee enemy nations will be looking at any known frequencies being used to exploit for their missile targeting radars.

Julian
Julian
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

If it works the same way as Starlink, and I’m as close to 100% sure as I can be that it does, then that is actually an AESA antenna where the uplink transmissions will be quite tightly focussed beams aimed upwards at whichever satellite in the OneWeb constellation is best positioned to act as the relay at any given time. That satellite being in low Earth orbit is also moving across the sky relatively quickly (about the same speed as the International Space Station) so the AESA beam will be tracking it as it moves and once it becomes the… Read more »

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian

They thought going into the Falklands that sat tracking was impossible and then Argentina demonstrated that was incorrect. Russia then tracked allied forces in Iraq 1 using the same tech. What I don’t know if if that vulnerability has been fixed.

Julian
Julian
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

They certainly won’t have been using AESA arrays to form tightly focussed beams during the Falklands war and I suspect not in Iraq 1 either. That technology has only recently become as portable as it is now. I assume at the time they were using dishes but I’m not sure how the spillage from a parabolic antenna will compare with a tight beam formed using AESA constructive/destructive interference.

I hope someone like DaveyB can wade in here. I am a physicist but I don’t pretend to be an expert on the practicalities of what is implemented in the field.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian

Certainly for some months Musk reported failed attempts to jam Starlink but there has been some success since though equally it seems that simple shielding or manipulation of the receiver antenna even putting it in a small depression can alleviate the jamming. But haven’t heard anything further for months.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian

The only thing I know is they use fewer larger satellites further out than Starlink.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

What surprised me is that Arhus has 400 crew. Thought it would be much smaller.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

It’s because it’s the littoral strike platform now so full of marines I suppose.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Hmmmm, not sure. They don’t count as crew surely. And I’ve not seen it confirmed as to what LRG(S)s RM dets comprise.
In fact, beyond Vanguard Strike Company which was announced years ago I’d have to make an educated guess what, on the RM side, these LRG comprise.

Julian
Julian
2 months ago

OK, this is the perfect opportunity for me to ask a really dumb question that has been bugging me for ages. It’s not meant to be facetious or insulting, exactly the opposite as I have the utmost respect for our armed forces and by all accounts RN marines are particularly impressive, but … As I understand it many RN vessels carry at least a small party of marines for boarding operations etc and for the bigger ships (frigates etc) those deployments, at least for the ships crews (maybe marines get rotated on and off more often?), can be multi-month deployments.… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Julian

I’d be guessing as much as you, actually. Beyond finding some industrial sized baked bean tins to use as makeshift weights, drill, exercise on deck, maintain their kit and RIBS, and all the rest. I assume they would also man the ships .5s and GPMGs in certain littoral areas too.

These RM you refer to used to come from, if memory serves, the Fleet Standby Rifle Troop. Now expanded, as parts of Four Two Commando carry out the role.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago

It must be the marines, aircrew etc. Argus definitely doesn’t have 400 RFA crew to operate.
There was a video a while ago with a tour of Argus or bits of it anyway. The crew showed his room, honestly could of been a land base.

Andrew
Andrew
2 months ago

Perhaps the medical team when it’s being used as a hospital ship are included…

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Yes, but it’s not a Hospital Ship mate. There’s a big difference between a PCR and hospital.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago

There’s still up to 200 medical staff when its a PCR ship.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Must be that then.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago

This is exactly what can help keep people in the forces and encourage people to join. The military has to shake off some of its stubborn old rules.

Tom
Tom
2 months ago

Cool… so anyone looking, can find them easier. 🙂

Gertrude
Gertrude
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Think AIS does that better, seeing as that’s it’s role.