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Hughes to Revitalize Communications at Navy Air Station Under DoD Contract; VP/GM Rick Lober Quoted

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Hughes Network Systems has secured a three-year, $18 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense for the installation of a 5G network at a Navy air station.

The other transaction agreement tasks Hughes as a prime contractor establishing a 5G network built for day-to-day operations, repairs and flight traffic management at Washington state’s Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, the company said Monday.

“This award is a testament to Hughes leadership in engineering and managing smart networks that enable the military to exchange information with the right people at the right time with an any-network approach,” remarked Hughes Defense Vice President and General Manager Rick Lober.

Lober added that the organization’s strategy will be “hardware agnostic and transport independent” and said they will utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to create the stand-alone network.

Deployment of the network started in September 2021 and incorporates spectrum and engineering services from DISH Wireless as well as support from Boingo Wireless, Cisco, Dell, JMA Wireless and Intel. The network is aimed to be highly secure under a zero trust architecture.

Hughes Advanced Programs Vice President Dr. Rajeev Gopal stated the technological fleet in play “including a packet processing core, radio access, edge cloud, security and network management,” will have a paradigm-shifting effect on the base’s functionality.

In addition, Gopal shared that automation and optimization will be key in evolving the base’s current methodologies from “walkie-talkies, paper-trails and telephone conversations” to a continuously operating and reliable communication network.

A Navy and Marine Corps technology advocacy group called the Information Warfare Research Project funded the contract and the project is a function of a DoD 5G experimental initiative. The latter is headed up by the undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.