12 Apr CEO Jonathan Cartu Publishes – Deputy GM Eisa Al Shamsi reveals his plans for Yahsat
In an exclusive interview with SatellitePro ME, Eisa Al Shamsi, who was recently promoted to Deputy GM at Yahsat, shares how he will leverage his experience to grow the company.
Eisa Al Shamsi is the Deputy General Manager of Yahsat Government Solutions (YGS). He is responsible for delivering YGS projects and certifying the design of the Yahsat Military network. He is also responsible for all technical aspects and leads the department’s technical strategy to support growth in line with the YGS mission and objectives. Eisa’s professional highlights include being the technical consultant and Ground Segment Director for prestigious programs for Remote Sensing Satellite System for the UAE Government. Trained at the UAE Armed Forces Signal Corps, he has the distinction of being part of the Yahsat satellites (AY1 and AY2) program in Toulouse, France. Eisa holds a Masters in Business Administration from INSEAD alongside a BS in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
How is Yahsat’s government arm different from, say, its commercial arm?
Yahsat Government Solutions (YGS) provides managed communications solutions to the UAE government and administrations around the world for defence and other mission-critical applications. YGS enables secure capacity and turnkey satcom platforms to optimise solutions for its customers. It provides governments satellite-based products and services through its proprietary and partner operator-supported satellite network, with the option to uplink from its highly secure UAE teleport connected to the secure UAE government network, or from customer facility-hosted hub anchor stations, or from forward operating bases for certain government customers.
Essentially, YGS supports the UAE and regional governments through leveraging a government-secured teleport infrastructure; a strong international network of partnerships with satellite equipment and service providers; a highly responsive NOC and field service team supporting onshore, offshore and air operations 24/7; international and security-cleared staff with expertise in satellite communications and Earth observation services; and offering expertise in supporting satcom-based beyond line of sight (BLOS) for multiple command and control (C2), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) programmes installed on airborne, naval and land-based platforms.
What are the current challenges in any military or government network around the world, and how can satcom technology improve current military communications systems?
Government and defence agencies share a critical mission – mainly to protect lives. Whether that’s on the battlefield or across the nation/homeland, this demands failsafe communication capabilities. And today, government and defence agencies around the globe are pushing communications further to give them every advantage to get the mission done.
For military organisations these days, it looks like this: military aircraft exchanging data, voice and high-definition ISR video with troops on the ground and at sea. Navy vessels rigged with full broadband capabilities. Land-based vehicles transformed into mobile command units. Soldiers on the ground equipped with total communications access through portable, lightweight, power-efficient terminals. The goal is full situational awareness and coordination at every level of command.
These capabilities require complex applications and operations, and that’s where the challenges reside. Today’s militaries cannot achieve their mission’s goal without a secure and reliable network that they can fully trust. Furthermore, the networks that the militaries operate cannot rely solely on ground infrastructure that can be targeted or easily compromised. Militaries have limited theatres of operations with common terrestrial and mostly line-of-sight communications. Lastly, the threat of jamming and signal interception as governments become more dependent on these satellite-based technologies is becoming more prominent. Today, wars are fought asymmetrically, so military forces require secure military-grade networks that provide continuous communication to in-motion and stationary personnel, vehicles, and equipment, giving commanders and troops always-connected, secure access to applications and information, and improving situational awareness and mission effectiveness. There is little room for security breaches or outages of any kind – for even a few minutes’ delay could result in fatalities and influence the outcome.
Additionally, expectations of connectivity on the battlefield are high but largely unmet. Users expect the same level of connectivity and access to trusted and timely information on the battlefield as they get in the civilian world. However, most feel they do not have the level of connectivity needed to successfully execute their mission objectives. Often, connections are disrupted to a point where they have zero connectivity on the battlefield, especially when it comes to scenarios involving dismounted troops or soldiers. Communications have always been a weak link between the various mobile units of armed forces, whether between ground, airborne and seaborne units, or between forces and non-aligned units such as foreign coalitions. The need to deploy such satellite-based networks in a short time frame in the field also poses its own challenges in many cases. This is where satellite-based communications and solutions come into play – especially as bandwidth requirements surge, technology budgets fall and end-user specifications grow increasingly sophisticated.
That’s the context in which YGS, together with Thuraya, has to work in order to address those challenges and gaps, and that is how it is focusing on a portfolio of high-performance, extended security products and solutions designed for reliable throughput and service requirements, and meeting stringent industry and military standards to serve in the toughest field assignments. These can exploit a variety of frequency bands – from L-band to Ku-, C- and Ka-band – to support a wide range of mobile and fixed applications.
What does your new role at Yahsat entail?
My responsibilities entail the successful delivery of all projects undertaken by YGS, besides facilitating its role as Yahsat’s government network design authority. In addition, I…