Military Embedded Systems

Encrypted comms capabilities for UASs in development for U.S. Army


October 15, 2020

Emma Helfrich

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

U.S. Army photo.

CARLSBAD and SIMI VALLEY, Calif. Viasat Inc., a global communications company, and AeroVironment, Inc., company specializing in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), announced they will collaborate on a contract awarded under the U.S. Army Reconfigurable Communications for Small Unmanned Systems (RCSUS) initiative. The project will aim to provide U.S. military customers flying small UAS platforms the ability to deploy a robust, on-demand, highly-secure communications network that will address growing electronic warfare capabilities of adversaries.

Viasat is the prime contractor on the award and will work with AeroVironment to develop and demonstrate advanced, encrypted communications suitable for AeroVironment's portable, hand-launched Puma AE tactical UAS.

According to officials, the two companies will seek to strengthen the communications and transmission security of AeroVironment's Digital Data Link (DDL) radios currently used by the U.S. Army by converting them into a Type 1 crypto communication system for video and data transmission. 

In addition, Viasat and AeroVironment will aim to develop critical interoperability standards for enabling UAS to generate a secure, digitally encrypted communications network—for protecting classified data and improving waveform performance in jamming environments—via the embedded DDL waveform.

They also intend to create a standardized communications architecture that will allow UAS to access spectrum quickly when operating in contested environments.


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