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.”