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Proceedings Paper

Battlefield connectivity via airborne communications nodes
Author(s): Charles W. Niessen
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Paper Abstract

Communications are essential to support today's information- rich tactics with distributed forces in a non-linear battlespace. Rapid deployment requirements and limited air/sea lift capability makes it difficult to transport and emplace communications infrastructure equipment in a timely manner. Furthermore, mobile forces quickly out-run fixed communications infrastructure and lose contact with command, support, and intelligence sources. What is needed is a reliable, easily deployed theater-wide communications network to provide the connectivity to separated forces; a mechanism for supplying this is a network of airborne communications nodes. A UAV flying at high altitude (65,000 ft) can provide line of sight connectivity (at up to 150 mi radius) between users that are not within line of sight of each other, and could relay communications through ground or on-board satellite gateways to provide world-wide connectivity. Since a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV (such as the Global Hawk) self-deploys from a great distance, there is no local infrastructure burden to provide this capability. Furthermore, since the range to the ground is relatively short, communications links can be established with even hand-held, low-power radios; heavy ground communications gear is not needed. This paper explores the utility of the UAV communication node concept, discussing applications, capabilities, and networking possibilities. In particular, UAVs, other aircraft, and selected ground sites could provide a backbone network for data communications on a 'warfighter's Internet.'

Paper Details

Date Published: 26 June 1997
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 3080, Digitization of the Battlefield II, (26 June 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.277150
Show Author Affiliations
Charles W. Niessen, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3080:
Digitization of the Battlefield II
Raja Suresh, Editor(s)

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