Datalink Enhanced TARS Recce System Has Real-Time Advantage

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86-0266 taking off from NAS Ft. Worth JRB in April 2007 equipped with an AN/ASQ-11 TARS recce pod on the center line station. Photo via Keith Robinson. BAE Systems has demonstrated a data-link enhancement for the Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System (TARS) enabling recce aircraft to transmit images over long distances, for near-real-time analysis by image analysts. The two-way datalink enables the pilot to receive mission updates while airborne.

BAE Systems, working under an $11.5 million U.S. Air Force contract with industry partners and the Air National Guard, incorporated and demonstrated the long-range data link capability the TARS. The system, deployed with early model Air national Guard F-16 (Block 30) provides high-resolution imagery and is designed for medium-altitude recce missions. The data link capability provides real- and near-real-time transmission of images from TARS to a surface terminal, or to any other compatible ground-based receiving equipment.

“The new data link capability provides a significant operational enhancement, as image specialists can review these images while the reconnaissance mission unfolds,” said Mario Vega, TARS program manager for BAE Systems in Greenlawn, New York. “Based on the received imagery, missions can be altered within a given sortie based on information about prospective new targets of interest.”