Concepts & Programs HomeProgramsFocus Area 4: Modernization & TechnologyPart 2: Information OperationsPart 2.1 Command and Control (C2)VSAT FoS


Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Family of Systems (FoS): Very Small Aperture Terminal is an integrated Commercial Off-the-Shelf satellite communication (SATCOM) system that is the Marine Corps’ primary access to the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN). VSAT allows distributed Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) operations providing the reach back capability to transmit critical command and control information. VSAT systems’ modular architecture supports technology insertion through scalable and flexible SATCOM technologies. VSAT uses commercial Ku and military Ka and X frequency bands to provide the MAGTF beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) connectivity to support intra-MAGTF communications (Non-secure Internet Protocol Routed network (NIPRNET), Secret Internet Protocol Router network (SIPRNET), and secure/ unsecure telephony down to the battalion/squadron level. The VSAT FoS includes the VSAT-Small (1.2 meter antenna) with Ka-band kit, the VSAT-Medium (1.8 meter antenna) with Ka-band kit packaged in ruggedized transit cases, and the VSAT-Large (2.4 meter antenna) trailer mounted with X-band kit. The VSAT-Large will, when Full Operational Capability is achieved, provide dual-shot capability via modification to the Signal Entry Panel (SEP) and the addition of an external antenna named the Adaptable Tactical Lightweight Antenna System (ATLAS). A recent addition to the FoS is the VSAT-Expeditionary (VSAT-E) (formerly called Expeditionary Command and Control Suite) packaged in transit/suitcases. The VSAT-E provides reach back, via a Consolidated Base Station at each Marine Expeditionary Force, to higher headquarters for early entry forces until larger Command and Control (C2) systems are established.

Operational Impact

The mission of VSAT is to support MAGTF operations by providing an integrated, secure, Near Real-Time, reliable, long-range, and rapidly deployable communications capability that complements existing military networks and is capable of supporting large numbers of geographically dispersed users. VSAT is capable of supporting high bandwidth voice, video, and data applications in order to support the exchange of C2, intelligence, and logistics information throughout the operational environment. The VSAT FoS architecture constitutes a logical progression to Marine Corps SATCOM capabilities allowing forward deployed elements greater flexibility at increased distances from their command elements. It will also allow these forward elements to communicate with each other directly allowing shorter response times and more effective coordination. The VSAT FoS will be used as an intra-theater satellite communications asset and will provide Defense Information Systems Network services via Gateway facilities. When directed by the MAGTF Commander, the VSAT-Large may directly access Gateway sites from any location. The VSAT FoS will provide the MAGTF Command Element increased flexibility by eliminating reliance on terrestrial limitations (e.g. distance and terrain). It allows simultaneous communications with all subordinate elements over increased geographical and BLOS environments.

Program Status

Post Milestone C. Current program office efforts include the modification of the SEP and the addition of the ATLAS. These modifications/additions will provide the VSAT-Large with a dual shot capability. Sustainment efforts include upgrades to servers, switches, and network packages. A Marine Corps SATCOM FoS Capabilities Production Document Integrated Planning Team has been chartered to determine the best approach for a Next Generation SATCOM capability.


VSAT FoS: General Dynamics Mission Systems,
Fairfax, VA

ATLAS: CUBIC (GATR) Global Defense,
Huntsville, AL

VSAT-E: L3 Technologies and PacStar,
New York, NY