Supplying the “Big Voice”

It’s dubbed the “Big Picture” – combining the output of many sensors so a commander gets a relevant picture of the situation being confronted.

The demand came first from the Israeli air force (IAF): the pilots and ground operators taking part in a combined air-ground-sea operation have to talk to each other, and at the same time distribute data.

That was the mission Rafael undertook some time ago. The result: a very advanced airborne datalink system that will enable the IAF to transmit and receive real-time video, data and voice communications simultaneously, using one very small, light radio.

The system – now in its final development stages – has recently been demonstrated to some foreign air forces, and according to the Israeli company export potential is big.

Rafael says that the Airborne Data Link System provides the ability to accurately process and distribute real-time information to all airborne and ground units, and provide total visibility in the theatre of operations.

According to the Israeli company, by providing communication links, networks and applications the Airborne Data Link System provides a virtual circuit and datagram service that guarantees reliable, simultaneous, multi-channel voice, data, imagery and video transmissions.

Airborne datalinks are based on two types of radio systems: DLR (datalink radio) and VDLR (voice and datalink radio), depending on the communications services and the requirements of data, video and imagery applications.

A Rafael programme source says the system enables connectivity between all airborne units, sensors and ground platforms.

The source says by using advanced software and off-the-shelf technology the company managed to solve a “critical problem” of advanced air forces, which use many types of manned aerial platforms in parallel with unmanned air systems.

All these aerial platforms have to share information with each other and with “clients” on the ground simultaneously – and all in “real time and [with] minimum delay in voice transmissions”.

The specific capabilities of the system are still classified, but a company source told me it will be a “revolution” in the changing pattern of combined military operations.

First there was the “Big Picture” – now the combined forces will have the “Big Voice”.

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