UAV connectivity top challenge with shift in terror war

As funding for the war on global terrorism shrinks and U.S. military forces are shifted to hot spots in Africa, Latin America and the U.S. border, the military expects to rely more frequently on commercial communications satellites for connectivity needed to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and also to provide the bandwidth required to handle more sophisticated sensors and the data they transmit, said military and commercial satellite experts at the March Satellite 2012 conference in Washington, reports Aviation Week.

As contingency funding dries up, the U.S. military needs "to figure out another way to fund the insatiable appetite our commanders in the field have with RPAs (remotely piloted aircraft) and UAVs, full-streaming video, full-motion video, et cetera," said Col. Michael Lakos, chief of the Milsatcom Division at Air Force Space Command. 

On the military side, AFSC is working on a global communications architecture for UAVs and drawing on its UAV expertise and that of combat commands, Special Operations Command and others to generate requirements. On the commercial side, industry is pushing for open standards that would foster greater interoperability among space, air and ground systems, and multiple frequency bands on future satellites for more operational flexibility to accommodate different geographic theaters, the story said.

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