Converting Aircraft For Broadband Data Transfer Capability

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AESA RAdar Datalink

Following research into the past two years, an industry group including Northrop Grumman Corporation, L-3 Communications Inc. and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics demonstrated the use of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars for high-bandwidth communications.

In the demonstration, electronic signals generated by the AESA radar were used to transmit imagery data transmission to an L-3 Communication’s Common Data Link modems, at a speed of 274 megabits-per-second, twice and four times the basic
CDL data rate.

Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems sector is producing the AN/APG-77 AESA for the F-22 aircraft. The Common Data Link (CDL) modem is used to transmit and receive high-data-rate, line-of-sight communications over long distances for both air-to-air and air-to-ground applications.


This demonstration is part of the F/A-22 Non-Traditional Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (NT-ISR) missions, considered for for possible spiral application into F-22 and F-35 aircraft programs, allowing them to transmit and receive large, uncompressed data packages, such as synthetic aperture radar images and other data, within seconds. According to Maj. Gen. Tommy Crawford, commander of the U.S. Air Force Command and Control, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center, “Radar CDL (R-CDL) is a needed capability to support near-real-time NT-ISR. R-CDL complements the tactical data-link capability of tactical targeting
network technology to complete networking the battlespace.”

DSL-like Wiring Enhances Aircraft Databus Capacity

A recent demonstration by Boeing Phantom Works, Data Device Corp. (DDC) and Honeywell enhanced the data transfer capability of aircraft at least 40 times faster than standard 1553 bus, utilizing existing aircraft wiring. Application of this technology will allow aircraft systems to be efficiently upgraded for future combat environments.

Designated HyPer-1553, the new technology developed by DDC utilizes Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) techniques, similar to the technology used to expand the data-carrying capability of ordinary telephone lines. According to Steve Wilson, Boeing Phantom Works lead engineer for the project: “(HyPer-1553) operates in parallel with existing MIL-STD-1553 data buses, upgrades can be done incrementally, which further expands the options for upgrading the war-fighting capabilities of current and future aircraft.

During the test, Boeing engineers used HyPer-1553 data bus to transmit imagery between a rugged computer mounted in the forward equipment bay of the F-15E and a modified Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) mounted on a wing pylon station. The results showed that HyPer-1553 transferred data at 40 megabits per second in parallel with MIL-STD-1553 data being transferred at 1 megabit per second. The team also transferred data at 40, 80 and 120 megabits per second on a second bus dedicated to the higher speed data.