Unmanned air vehicle manufacturer Tekever and satellite communications (SATCOM) company ViaSat have entered into an agreement to further incorporate beyond line of sight capabilities onto small UAVs.
Tekever will offer the UAVs it is developing to ViaSat for testing, while the small SATCOM technology that the latter is testing will be offered to the aircraft manufacturer to test out different applications.
“We consider them [ViaSat] to be working at the forefront of SATCOM, and they see us as being at the forefront of future systems,” Ricardo Mendes, chief operating officer of Tekever, tells Flight Daily News. “We’ll be a cycle ahead of others.”
The focus is the civil and security markets, including maritime surveillance, to aid in the integration of UAVs into national airspace.
The only UAV that Tekever has that is SATCOM-capable is the largest one – the AR5 Life Ray Evolution.
While there is a possibility further down the development path to add SATCOM terminals to the other UAVs as the technology gets smaller, Mendes says that the AR5 is currently the sole focus because it is the only viable system.
He notes that there is currently a trade-off between size and data transmission levels in terminals, so the larger UAVs are the only ones that can carry them and operate sufficiently.