SatComs, time delay and the fixing trick

SatCom systems are everywhere. They are used to enable unlimited communication between fighting platforms and commanders or, in many cases, the “decision makers” that pull the trigger.

But SatComs have a shortcoming. The signal, which for instance goes from a payload carried by an unmanned air system (UAS) via the satellite to the operator of a weapons system, has a millisecond delay.

That is exactly why pinpointing a target, which was detected by a UAS that relayed the data to a satellite and from there to the ground, is a tricky job.

The trick that can fix it is called a logarithm. And this is a very sophisticated trick, especially when the target is a moving one, and the accuracy of the “hit point” fed into the weapons system before launch must be very, very “focused”.

This capability gives the one that has it a great advantage over the enemy, in many cases a crucial one.

Israeli sources have for the first time said that the capability has been “honed” in an unprecedented way by local defence industries.

They were only ready to say that the “trick” is made in both ends of the “pipe” – in the sensor side and on the ground.

One very real and current aspect of this capability is related to the detection of improvised explosive devices (IED) that are popular in battle areas such as Afghanistan.

There, the suspicious signs on the ground where the IED is waiting to explode are detected in many cases from satellite orbits some 600km (373 miles) above ground. Even if the target is static, the wind on the ground can affect the accuracy of the weapon launched to destroy the IED. Here also the logarithm is responsible for the necessary compensation from detection to destruction.

Spy satellites, data links and special logarithms make some wild scenarios possible, and Israel seems to be positioning itself in the front row of operational users.

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