Ka-Band In-Flight Connectivity System Unveiled for UAVs

By Mike Ball / 09 Jun 2019
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Viasat Global Aero Terminal 5518Viasat has announced the availability of its new Ka-band Global Aero Terminal (GAT-5518), which provides in-flight connectivity (IFC) services for government, business and military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other aircraft.

The compact terminal delivers the industry’s highest data rates for an 18 inch antenna, providing the highest forward link capacity (to the aircraft) and highest return link capacity (from the aircraft) to perform high-bandwidth applications such as advanced video streaming services.

The GAT-5518 is the latest satellite communications (SATCOM) innovation to join Viasat’s broad portfolio of Ka-band aero antenna systems. The system can meet a variety of requirements for UAVs and fixed-wing aircraft, including real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); enabling operational-support airlift missions; moving personnel and equipment across the battlefield; providing advanced situational awareness; en-route mission planning; MedEvac and telemedicine services; search and rescue; and border and maritime surveillance. Additionally, the terminal was designed to leverage Viasat’s Hybrid Adaptive Network (HAN) architecture, which allows users to seamlessly operate across commercial and government SATCOM networks. The HAN architecture conceives an end-to-end network that provides mitigation against congestion situations, intentional and unintentional interference sources and cyber threats through implementation of layered resiliency in highly-contested environments.

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“We’re focused on delivering advanced antenna systems that meet in-flight connectivity requirements across multiple airframe and end-user types,” said Kent Leka, general manager, Antenna Systems at Viasat. “In designing and developing new aero terminals we take into consideration the broad user base and application sets to ensure the terminal’s viability across various markets. We’re confident the compact GAT-5518 will provide broader operational flexibility to enhanced reliability and resiliency to meet the diverse needs of business and military users.”

The GAT-5518 terminal completed the rigorous Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) D0-160G certification process. This certification confirms the terminal’s ability to provide reliable IFC services across the full International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Ka-band spectrum, which includes commercial and Mil-Ka frequency bands; across varying polarity layouts; across multiple orbital regimes, including both medium earth orbit (MEO) and geosynchronous (GEO) satellite systems; and across multiple network and ground infrastructures. The terminal is also expected to be forward-compatible, enabling it to leverage current and future Viasat satellite systems, as well as operate over third party satellite networks.

The terminal is made up of a two-axis steerable, two-way Ka-band antenna with an integrated antenna control unit (ACU), an antenna power supply unit and a modem. The GAT-5518’s antenna can be tail, fuselage or hatch-mounted.

Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact
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