Airbus Defence and Space has been awarded a contract to provide satellite airtime for air and ground tracking of the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) ground assets and helicopters on a worldwide basis.

Under the one-year contract, the company will provide Iridium short burst data (SDB) and Iridium router-based unrestricted digital internetworking connectivity solutions (RUDICS) data minutes for the MoD’s asset tracking system (ATS), helicopter ATS (HeATS) and ground ATS (GrATS).

Airbus Defence and Space Government Communications UK head Paul Millington said: "This service further extends our close co-operation with the UK MoD, beyond the Skynet satellite network.

"Remote tracking and monitoring of critical assets is a rapidly expanding area and we are delighted to be able to support ATS."

"The UK Military’s ATS meets operational command situational awareness requirements by providing the location of tracked ground and air assets in near real-time."

Iridium SBD is an efficient network transport capability designed for transmitting short data messages between equipment and centralised host computer systems.

RUDICS is a data service that enables customers to send and receive large amounts of data traffic through affordable, multi-protocol, mobile-originated (MO), and mobile-terminated (MT) circuit switched data calls across the Iridium satellite network.

The UK Military’s ATS meets operational command situational awareness requirements by providing the location of tracked ground and air assets in near real-time.

The strategic importance of the ATS requires reliability across all of its components, including the satellite airtime provided by Airbus to transmit GPS data from assets in the field.
Both HeATS and GrATS were developed and fielded by QinetiQ under an urgent operational requirement from the MoD for improved tracking and monitoring of aircraft and ground vehicles in Afghanistan.

According to QinetiQ, the systems have helped to boost situational awareness, and streamline the tempo of operations, in addition to improving response time to troops needing assistance in the field.