You are here

High Gain Common Data Link (CDL) Antennas for Networking UAV Nodes


OBJECTIVE: Enable the Fire Scout to operate as a node in a high-speed mobile star network. DESCRIPTION: The Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) could increase its utility to the fleet by operating as a node in an airborne star network. Current Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) antenna availability and positioning on the airframe do not allow TCDL Omni-directional, simultaneous multi-channel communications. Ideally, the UAV should be able to support 6 high-speed channels operating at 200Kbps, 2Mbps, 10.71Mbps and 21.42Mbps. This enabler is to support full-two way communication with up to six other nodes for transfer and relay of data, imagery, command and control with 360 degree coverage, within a 110NM UAV slant range. Current TCDL antenna technology does not support simultaneous multi-channel communications capability. The TCDL Omni-directional antennas lack the gain and simultaneous multi-channel bi-directional communications. The TCDL directional antennas don"t support the high-speed multi-point distribution needed. Several possible solutions have been ground tested for other situations, including multiple beam antennas and phased array antennas, with no known solutions. Significant issues with size, weight and power must be overcome to make any solution viable for a small platform such as Fire Scout. The High Gain Common Data Link (CDL) Antennas for Networking UAV Nodes will be able to provide 360 degrees TCDL networked communication links which allow a single star network distribution and static or dynamic Internet Protocol address routing table for 6 high-speed simultaneous channels. The deliverable will be a combination of hardware (antennas, connectors, routers, transponders, etc.) and software (network switching). ForceNet and Gap FY14-23 require network-enabled UASs capable of creating mobile networks. The VTUAV currently cannot support network connectivity due to its TCDL directional antennas, such as the Fire Scout operates at a return link rate of 10.71 Mbps at 110 nautical miles. This data rate and range cannot be supported using TCDL Omni-directional antennas. The current TCDL Omni-directional antenna lacks sufficient gain to allow operations at the required ranges. To be useful in supporting the network (transmitting CDL at 21.42 Mbps to/from the number of six nodes) the UAV will need to support up to137 Megabits per second data rates, using improved specialized antennas at a range of up to 110 nautical miles. For example, the Fire Scout TCDL antennas currently support 10.71 Mb/s downlink rates for imagery transfer, voice and aircraft status, and 200 kb/s uplink rates for Command and Control (C2). At 137Mbps, the Fire Scout would be able to support full-two way communication with up to six other nodes for transfer of data, imagery and command and control with this High Gain Common Data Link (CDL) Antennas for Networking UAV Nodes. PHASE I: Develop and prove feasibility of a solution to provide a capability for unmanned vehicles to operate as a high-speed node in a mobile star network with up to six nodes. PHASE II: Develop and deliver a prototype that includes the hardware and software to deliver multimode, high-speed mobile star network service. PHASE III: Finalize the solution and perform testing and transition to appropriate platforms. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The product would have use in a variety of homeland security areas such as border patrol and the Coast Guard. REFERENCES: 1. L-3 Communications. Rover 5 Handheld. 2. USMC Team Portable CDL (TP-CDL), 2009.
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government