Tactical communications supported by satellites are becoming increasingly important to mobile military units during operations. In June 2009, the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center awarded Iridium a contract to develop a next-generation communications system for a joint U.S. military network technologies program.
Since 1999, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime has made extensive use of satellite imagery in its Illicit Crop Monitoring Programme (ICPM), helping national governments and the international community monitor and track the production of illicit crops.
Surveillance satellites are used on a daily basis for military planning and intelligence. The military operation against Osama Bin Laden in 2011 is a prime example of how these space assets are used. After the CIA and U.S. military determined the potential location of Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, satellite images were used to create a detailed map from above.
Russia is working to use remote sensing data from satellites to identify narcotic plants as they are being cultivated. Researchers hope to distinguish between particular plant species by subtle differences in the way they reflect light.
Beginning in 2012, new satellite communications terminals are being deployed at Afghan National Police Training Centers. The new access points are able to provide both classified and unclassified network access, which increases operational security while conserving valuable secure bandwidth.
Satellite communications play a very important role in developing nations, which often lack extensive ground-based infrastructure. In order to improve its broadcasting capabilities, Iraq is in the process of deploying new satellite television terminals to operate within the Arab States Broadcasting Union. This group serves as the umbrella organization for Arab government-owned radio and television channels, promoting media broadcasting and content development in the region.
Space-based capabilities are being fused to create useful capabilities. One new capability is described by the term “geoinformatics,” which involves the convergence of PNT, remote sensing, and position information of known objects to enable dynamic location-based content.