Re­mote troops to have high-speed wire­less net­works on UAVs


Mis­sions in re­mote, for­ward op­er­at­ing lo­ca­tions of­ten suf­fer from a lack of con­nec­tiv­ity to tac­ti­cal oper­a­tion cen­tres and ac­cess to valu­able in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance, and re­con­nais­sance (ISR) data. The as­sets needed for long-range, high-band­width com­mu­ni­ca­tions ca­pa­bil­i­ties are of­ten un­avail­able to lower ech­e­lons due to the­ater-wide mis­sion pri­or­i­ties. The De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Projects Agency’s (DARPA) mo­bile hotspots pro­gramme aims to help over­come this chal­lenge by de­vel­op­ing a re­li­able, on-de­mand ca­pa­bil­ity for es­tab­lish­ing lon­grange, high-ca­pac­ity reach­back that is or­ganic to tac­ti­cal units.

The pro­gramme is build­ing and demon­strat­ing a scal­able, mo­bile mil­lime­tre-wave com­mu­ni­ca­tions back­haul net­work mounted on small un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles (UAVs) and pro­vid­ing a one Gb/s ca­pac­ity. DARPA per­form­ers re­cently com­pleted the first of three phases in which they de­vel­oped and tested key tech­nolo­gies to be in­te­grated into a com­plete sys­tem and flight tested in sub­se­quent phases.

“We’re pleased with the tech­ni­cal achieve­ments we’ve seen so far in steer­able mil­lime­tre-wave an­ten­nas and mil­lime­tre-wave am­pli­fier tech­nol­ogy,” said Dick Ridg­way, DARPA Pro­gram Man­ager. “These suc­cesses—and the novel net­work­ing ap­proaches needed to main­tain these high-ca­pac­ity links—are key to pro­vid­ing for­ward de­ployed units with the same high-ca­pac­ity con­nec­tiv­ity we all en­joy over our 4G cell-phone net­works.”

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