Next-Generation Communications for Unmanned Systems

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June 28, 2005 Technology continues to add ever increasing, capabilities, firepower and situational awareness to the modern warfighter. Indeed, the ability for soldiers on the ground, at sea and in the air to share information in real time has been the goal for all fighting forces around the world and will soon be a reality thanks to next-generation signal intelligence and data link products shown at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI's) Unmanned Systems North America 2005 Conference in Baltimore, Maryland today. The products build on Cubic's field-proven data link technologies, which transmit real-time data, video and other sensor information from airborne systems to ground-based and shipboard platforms.

The new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) products from Cubic Communications are specifically designed to meet requirements for compact unmanned systems, and will significantly expand situational awareness for the warfighter. At AUVSI, Cubic displayed its new CDR-21000 SIGINT Monitoring Suite and Man-Portable TCDL (tactical common data link), which feature an Ethernet-based plug-and-play operation.

"The new technologies will enhance information-sharing among all services on land, air and sea," said Rick Lober, senior vice president of Cubic's Communications and Electronics Business Unit. "This supports the military's objectives to provide a network-centric capability for the 21st century."

The products build on Cubic's field-proven data link technologies, which transmit real-time data, video and other sensor information from airborne systems to ground-based and shipboard platforms.

"Our new ISR products for unmanned systems are designed for portability and interoperability, allowing troops to obtain real-time images and data, anywhere, at anytime, to precisely locate and identify enemy targets," Lober said.

The Man-Portable TCDL provides ISR information for the foot soldier on-the-move. The system comprises a compact TCDL carried inside the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), as well as a mini antenna system and ruggedized laptop for land forces. The entire system can be hand-carried by two people and easily installed in any environment.

A key advantage of the Man-Portable TCDL is its unique video streaming and remote-control capabilities. The system allows the foot soldier to control the camera angles inside the UAV to identify and track enemy positions -- and view the resulting video in real time on their laptops.

This system is a variant of the TCDL that Cubic is providing for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) WATCHKEEPER program -- the most extensive UAV program in development. In addition to UAVs, Cubic's TCDL products can be used among manned fixed wing, rotary wing and shipboard platforms.

Cubic's new SIGINT Monitoring Suite merges Cubic's TCDL with its digital CDR-21000 receiver technology to greatly expand intelligence-gathering capabilities.

The system not only pinpoints enemy positions, but also categorizes the type of threat and monitors signals of interest thousands of miles away. This is possible with Cubic's digital intelligence receiver, which provides radio direction-finding, multi-channel functions and precise geolocation techniques.

The SIGINT package is designed to operate within the Global Information Grid, or GIG. Using this computer network, users can monitor, track and time-tag the frequency of their choice at multiple locations.

Both the SIGINT and Man-Portable TCDL feature a universal Ethernet interface. This allows authorized users to easily tap into the live data transmission, anywhere on GIG, through a secure LAN browser.

Also at AUVSI, Cubic will showcase its new line of low cost, miniature HF and VHF data links for small UAV and unattended ground sensor applications, as well as its High Integrity Data Link (HIDL) product. Cubic is developing HIDL in conjunction with Ultra Electronics for the WATCHKEEPER program.

"These newer data link products will meet the growing needs of the overall unattended combat systems marketplace and greatly enhance our core TCDL portfolio," Lober said.

During the conference, the UK MoD's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory will present a paper on the new HIDL waveform, which adds significant anti-jam capabilities to UAV control signals.

The Cubic Defense Applications group, one of Cubic's two major segments, is a world leader in realistic combat training systems, mission support services and defense electronics. The corporation's other major segment, Cubic Transportation Systems, designs and manufactures automatic fare collection systems for public mass transit authorities. For more information about Cubic, see the company's website

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