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.”