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26 June 1997 Battlefield connectivity via airborne communications nodes
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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.'
© (1997) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Charles W. Niessen "Battlefield connectivity via airborne communications nodes", Proc. SPIE 3080, Digitization of the Battlefield II, (26 June 1997);

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