Above: The current pair of B747-200s in the Air Force One fleet will be replaced by a new B747-8
July 25, 2016 – Exciting news: the connectivity provider for Air Force One has been announced! The United States Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has awarded ViaSat, a global broadband services and technology company, a non-competitive, firm-fixed-price contract to provide global in-flight broadband and communications services for the new Presidential B747-8, VC-25s, C-17s, C-32s, C-37s, C-40s and the complete range of VIP and special air mission aircraft. According to DISA, the face value of this award is US$33,052,330, and the total cumulative face value of the contract is $73,217,722.
According to ViaSat, the service enables “a Situation Room in the Sky” experience, with the ability to use the in-flight broadband connection to stream full-motion high-definition video for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and for en-route command and control and search and rescue missions. The connection can also be used to maintain two-way communications through HD video conference calling or voice over internet protocol calls, and to access real-time intelligence and other location-based, live-sensor data for critical decision-making and more.
“ViaSat’s high-capacity global in-flight internet service ensures executive and government leaders and their teams can stay connected, informed and productive, maximizing the effectiveness of time in-flight with ‘Situation Room and Command Center’ connectivity in the sky,” said Ken Peterman, senior vice president and general manager, Government Systems Division, ViaSat. “This award is a significant accomplishment and we are proud to be delivering remarkably fast data speeds and an abundance of capacity to support the in-flight communications needs of our government’s senior leadership on Air Force One and other special air mission aircraft.”
ViaSat believes a key enabler to delivering this global in-flight broadband connectivity is that it offers a field-proven, certified, hybrid Ku-/Ka-band system, which will keep government aircraft connected to ViaSat’s best available satellite network. The hybrid terminal and radome enables automatic in-flight network switching across Ku- and Ka-band satellite networks for an advanced “global roaming capability.”