Hughes’ Rick Lober on Commercial Satcom Trends Agencies & Company’s Airbus Partnership

Rick Lober oversees Hughes Network Systems‘ defense and intelligence systems division as its vice president and general manager with responsibility over sales of satellite communications technologies and services to military and other national security agencies.

Lober has advocated for government customers to increase their adoption and usage rates of satcom tools from the commercial arena as a means to help manage financial resource and bandwidth limitations along with crowded constellations in space.

In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Lober offers his viewpoint on efforts Hughes and other industry members are making to help agencies bring in commercial satcom technologies and gives additional detail on the company’s mobility partnership with Airbus.

ExecutiveBiz: What would you identify as the most prominent trend in satellite communications right now?

Rick Lober: Creating innovative technologies to support mobility by air, land and sea. Hughes DISD has taken the innovative engineering of commercial satellite networks created by Hughes Network Systems and adapted it with specialized terminals and waveforms to meet growing defense mobility requirements, including airborne and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

ExecutiveBiz: Where is Hughes positioning itself in response to that?

Rick Lober: Hughes Defense is positioning itself as the end-to-end, managed services provider and systems integrator for the wide variety of military missions. U.S. and allied defenses want to have cost-effective, high-throughput communications solutions that give them flexibility in all regions and environmental conditions.

ExecutiveBiz: Where is Hughes looking to grow its offerings for agencies through its partnership with Airbus?

Rick Lober: Hughes Defense will work with Airbus to distribute all models of the Hughes HM System of flexible satellite networking technology for various mobility and portable government user requirements. In addition, Hughes will provide Airbus’ Skynet services to support U.S. government users and their tactical missions.

ExecutiveBiz: What are Hughes and industry at-large doing to help agencies address issues of constrained resources and aging systems?

Rick Lober: Hughes Defense and its industry colleagues have been working with the DoD for several years to create a multitude of advanced, secure and flexible options to supplement and possibly replace some of the defense-owned satellite systems.

With the current space environment becoming much more contested, the commercial satellite industry has offered the DoD many advanced capabilities to add more resilience into the government space architecture.

One strong example is the use of innovative commercial satellites and hosted payloads to distribute satellite communications resources across many platforms, limiting the chances of DoD losing critical communications, especially for intelligence gathering, command and control and en-route communications.

ExecutiveBiz: How do you see public-private collaborations evolving in the satcom arena over the next year?

Rick Lober: We will start to see various changes in government satcom. This will include many elements and, very possibly, bring in some form of public-private collaboration.

As the DoD begins to examine all of its options for the next generation of wideband communications in its Analysis of Alternatives, cooperation with commercial providers must be part of the solution to enable necessary cost savings and increase use of advanced satellite technologies that will deliver resilience and support growing, high-bandwidth requirements like UAVs.

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