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Enhanced SATCOMs for Unmanned Aerial Systems

  • Magazine Article
  • 18AERP09_01
Published September 01, 2018 by SAE International in United States
  • English

Satellites launched with the purpose of relaying communications have been enabling around-the-globe transmissions of information for half a century. And in this current era of hybrid warfare, that means this decades-old hardware needs to be able to manage the command and control of unmanned aircraft.

The information relay from an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is only as good as the connection, and there are limited options for transmitting information, particularly in theater, where there is limited infrastructure. Historically, drones used radio waves to be able to fly within line of sight of the operator. But now, with Reapers flying halfway around the globe from the command center, satellite communications (SATCOMs) are essential to drone operations - particularly for medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) aircraft, but also for smaller platforms.