Viasat has partnered with AeroVironment to enable flying small UAS platforms to deploy a robust, on-demand, highly-secure communications network under a contract awarded under the U.S. Army Reconfigurable Communications for Small Unmanned Systems (RCSUS) initiative, Viasat announced Thursday.
"Viasat's robust military-grade cryptography and electronic countermeasure tactical waveform design will enable quick expansion of secure communications to a variety of small unmanned systems operating at the tactical edge," said Ken Peterman, president of government systems at Viasat.
Viasat will work with AeroVironment to develop and demonstrate advanced, encrypted communications for AeroVironment's portable, hand-launched Puma AE tactical UAS. The companies' efforts will address the electronic warfare capabilities of peer and near-peer adversaries.
"By collaborating with AeroVironment, an established leader in the tactical UAS sector, we can help the U.S. Army set new waveform standards that maximize connectivity and minimize the risk of signal intercept," Peterman added.
The joint effort will work to strengthen the communications and transmission security of AeroVironment's Digital Data Link (DDL) radios currently used by the U.S. Army. The radios will be converted into a Type 1 crypto communication system for video and data transmission. Viasat and AeroVironment will also develop critical interoperability standards to generate a secure, digitally encrypted communications network.
The network is intended to connect classified data and improve waveform performance in jamming environments through the embedded DDL waveform. They will also create a standardized communications architecture that will allow UAS to access spectrum quickly and easily, especially when operating in contested environments.
"We will work with Viasat to provide customers requiring enhanced, secure communication capabilities with a portable, practical solution for maintaining secure communications via tactical unmanned aircraft systems operating at the battlefield's edge," said Scott Newbern, AeroVironment chief technology officer.
Viasat is the prime contractor on the award.