Marines want a faster, lighter and more reliable satellite communication system.

After a decade of service, the equipment in the Very Small Aperture Terminal systems needs replacements, according to a Marine Corps Systems Command release.

Some of the systems were fielded from commercial sources in 2008 and replacement parts are no longer available, meaning many cannot be repaired, officials said.

“The terminals support Marine Air-Ground Task Force operations by providing an integrated, secure, reliable, long-range and rapidly deployable communications capability that complements existing military networks and is capable of supporting large numbers of geographically dispersed users,” said Maj. Andrew J. Konicki, satellite communications team lead at the command.

“The Marine Corps is reliant on data, in terms of the internet and streaming videos, for both intelligence purposes as well as real-time information on the ground,” Konicki said. “Without a robust satellite communications capability, this isn’t possible.”

Beyond repairable equipment, the rapid part of the “rapid deployment” needs to speed up too.

Current systems take two Marines up to 30 to 45 minutes to set up. Developers want to reduce that time to 10 to 20 minutes and lighten the weight of the system and reduce the number of components, according to the release.

The Request for Information was released to industry in October. Konicki expects the Request for Proposal to post this summer.

Marines aim to field the VSAT-medium replacement by 2020 and the full replacement of all systems by 2023.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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