U.K. Evaluate French Datalink for Watchkeeper

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TMA-6000 wideband datalink. Photo: Thales
Thales/Elbit Systems Watchkeeper
Thales/Elbit Systems Watchkeeper

Thales is due to complete a study that will assess the possibility of integrating its Thales Modem for Air (TMA) 6000 wideband airborne Ku-band datalink terminal on the WK450 Watchkeeper UAV – Digital Battlespace reports. The company is under contract with the French MoD for the study, which is currently carrying out a flight test programme on the platform that has been designed for the British Army.

paris13-125x125According to Bruno Kerjean, product line manager for high rate datalinks within Thales, France is assessing the British requirement under contract from Thales UK. The program is studying the replacement of the Cubic Tactical Common Datalink (TCDL) currently employed with Watchkeeper, with the wideband link started earlier this year and is expected to end this month. TMA offers high transmission rate of sensor data, required for delivery of live, high-definition video and multi-sensor support.

U-Tacs, the JV between Thales and Elbit responsible for the aircraft development and production is also part of the study. The UK MoD is also looking at the TMA 6000 for potential integration on future versions of the aircraft, which has yet to enter service, including the the Reaper and Heron UAVs – in service with UK and French Air Forces.

Enhancements to the system include support for a new waveform optimized for special forces, offering improved countermeasures and resistance to interference, by better cancelling echo multipass. The TMA will also carry an improved broadband SATCOM waveform, also developed by Thales, enabling the TMA to transfer data over satellite data terminal when available on the platform.

In 2012 thesystem received the STANAG 7085 certification by the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), making the TMA 6000 the first European terminal of its kind to obtain certification in the United States. With this certification the TMA 6000 has officially demonstrated its capacity to transmit all types of data (navigation, video, images) to the US-made manpack terminals (ROVER) in service with NATO ground forces.

The IAI Heron 1 UAV was employed on a maritime surveillance test test recently, where the drone was flown in non segregated airspace using satellite communications control. Photos: Spanis MOD
The IAI Heron 1 UAV was employed on a maritime surveillance test test recently, where the drone was flown in non segregated airspace using satellite communications control. Photos: Spanis MOD