Viasat Inc. and AeroVironment, Inc. have announced they will collaborate on a contract awarded under the US Army Reconfigurable Communications for Small Unmanned Systems (RCSUS) initiative. This will provide US military customers flying small UAS platforms with the ability to deploy a robust, on-demand, highly-secure communications network that will address the growing electronic warfare capabilities of peer and near-peer adversaries.
Viasat is the prime contractor and will work with AeroVironment to develop and demonstrate advanced, encrypted communications suitable for AeroVironment’s portable, hand-launched PUMA AE™ tactical UAS. The two companies will strengthen the communications and transmission security of AeroVironment’s Digital Data Link™ (DDL) radios currently used by the US Army by converting them into a Type 1 crypto communication system for video and data transmission.
Viasat and AeroVironment will also develop critical interoperability standards for enabling UAS to generate a secure, digitally encrypted communications network. This will be used for protecting classified data and improving waveform performance in jamming environments, via the embedded DDL waveform.
Near Peer Conflict
“Viasat’s robust military-grade cryptography and electronic countermeasure tactical waveform design will enable quick expansion of secure communications to a variety of small unmanned systems operating at the tactical edge,” said Ken Peterman, President, Government Systems, Viasat.
“By collaborating with AeroVironment, an established leader in the tactical UAS sector, we can help the U.S. Army set new waveform standards that maximise connectivity and minimise the risk of signal intercept,” he added.
Tens of thousands of AeroVironment tactical unmanned aircraft are currently deployed around the world and are capable of serving as secure, digital network communication nodes for on-demand, mesh network applications in various operating environments.
“As US forces plan for the potential of operating against peer and near-peer military adversaries possessing advanced electronic warfare capabilities, the need for even more secure communication capabilities is rapidly increasing,” said Scott Newbern, AeroVironment Chief Technology Officer.
“We will work with Viasat to provide customers requiring enhanced, secure communication capabilities with a portable, practical solution for maintaining secret-level communications via tactical unmanned aircraft systems operating at the battlefield’s edge,” he added.