||This article may be too technical for most readers to understand. (December 2011)|
A satellite by itself is neither military nor civil. It is the kind of payload it carries that enables one to arrive at a decision regarding its military or civilian character.Ref N-1 Nevertheless, even the above distinction is now blurred. For example, a civilian satellite can carry military transponders and vice versa. Civil commercial satellites are also known to carry out military tasks including enabling military communications and imagery. At the same time, military satellites like the NAVSTAR GPS have more civilian users than military users. In spite of the above possibilities, satellites which have purely military uses are known as military satellites.
Military satellite industry
The demand for military satellite communications as of 2009 is estimated at 390 TPEs[clarification needed] for C-, Ku-, and Ka-bands. Futron Corporation projects a 300-unit increase through 2019, or 5.6 percent growth rate per annum over ten years. The demand for military satellite communications in 2009 is estimated at 16 Gbit/s, it is expected to grow to 28Gbit/s in 2019. The largest demand for military satellites is from the US. Demand from international security forces is growing as well, especially from NATO states and the Middle East. Military satellites are becoming more indispensable in theater of operations as well as "home country" use for training, data redistribution and backhaul.
Use by the U.S. Armed Forces
The U.S. Armed Forces maintains international networks of satellites with ground stations located in various continents. Signal latency is a major concern in satellite communications, so geographic and meteorological factors play an important role in choosing teleports. Since some of the major military activities of the U.S. army is in foreign territories, the U.S. government needs to subcontract satellite services to foreign carriers headquartered in areas with favorable climate.
Military Strategic and Tactical Relay, or MILSTAR, is a constellation of military satellites managed by the United States Air Force. There are currently five MILSTAR satellites deployed in geostationary orbit to provide wideband, narrowband and protected military communication systems. Wideband systems support high-bandwidth transfers. Protected systems offer more sophisticated security protection like antijam features and nuclear survivability, while narrowband systems are intended for basic communications services that do not require high bandwidth.
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- Squadron Leader KK Nair, "Space: The Frontiers of Modern Defence", Knowledge World Publishers, New Delhi.
- N-1 For details, see Space: The Frontiers of Modern Defence