ViaSat has secured two research contracts from the US Department of Defense (DoD) to assess the use of 5G networks on the battlespace.

The two contracts are awarded through the Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP). They are part of a $600m initiative announced last year by the DoD to explore 5G technology to strengthen combat capabilities.

The contracts will focus on two areas: improving command and control (C2) applications and services; and 5G enhanced network deployment for Agile Combat Employment (ACE) operations in contested environments.

In the first case, Viasat will offer C2 hardware packages to support command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), networking and cybersecurity software.

Subsequently, 5G technology will be used to integrate these capabilities into tactical networks to enhance visibility across the battlespace.

The company will also explore the feasibility of using 5G connectivity to support bandwidth-intensive applications such as ISR mapping.

The second research area will seek to achieve rapid configuration and deployment of secure 5G nodes, a capability that may help in operating in unknown battle zones.

Viasat government systems president Craig Miller said: “With 5G networks spreading globally and adversaries investing heavily in this capability, it is critical for the US and its allies to understand and explore the potential of 5G technology in supporting warfighting operations.

“The rapid transport of information and data across domains is critical to advancing multi-domain operations and enabling joint force operations. Enhanced 5G bandwidth and connectivity for bases and mobile platforms at the tactical edge can offer commanders greater visibility to enhance C2 operations and increase situational awareness for the warfighter.”

The research experiments will be conducted over three years.

Viasat is a communications company headquartered in the US state of California. Earlier this year, the company demonstrated beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) Ka-band satellite communications (SATCOM) connectivity to a US Army rotary-wing platform.