DISA seeks broadband satcom service for Air Force One

The Defense Information Systems Agency is looking for ways to deliver broadband data service to Air Force One and as many as 26 other Special Air Mission aircraft, with a minimum data rate of 3 megabits/sec.

According to a request for information, DISA seeks commercial satellite services to replace an existing service known as Connexion, which Boeing has been providing. Boeing designed Connexion to serve commercial airlines and business jets, and the company announced in August 2006 that it would shut down the service.

Inmarsat provides additional service to the fleet with its Swift64 service, which operates at 64 kilobits/sec.

According to the RFI, vendors should propose solutions that can support as many as six aircraft at a time with 20 users per plane. The service needs to support virtual private network connections, access to government intranets, high-speed Internet, Internet-based voice services, e-mail, videoconferencing and secure telephone calls.

DISA also wants the new system to provide direct broadcast TV services, and all those services should be globally accessible from major air routes. The agency would like the solution to use existing antennas on Air Force One because no modifications to the aircraft are planned in the near term.

The Air Force's 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., operates two specially modified Boeing 747-200Bs, which carry the Air Force One designation when the president is aboard. Other Special Air Mission aircraft include a fleet of four Boeing 757 and four 737-700 twin engine aircraft and 10 Gulfstream business jets.

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