Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

The UK Royal Air Force is to equip its Sepecat Jaguar fleet with the capability to transmit and receive video imagery over existing radios.

The UK's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) has placed a $3.2 million order with US company Symetrics Industries for 50 improved data modems (IDMs) incorporating the Photo-Reconnaissance Intelligence Strike Module (PRISM).

The PRISM-equipped IDM will allow Jaguar pilots to capture, compress and transmit/receive digital video imagery to up to four "voice-only" radios. Melbourne, Florida-based Symetrics says the UK award "represents the first integration of this type of imagery capture and transmission capability across a fleet of tactical fighters".

Integration of PRISM-IDM on the Jaguar was accomplished last year, and in December an aircraft participated in a first demonstration of unmanned air vehicle (UAV) to fighter imagery relay (UFIR) at the US Navy's China Lake, California, test range. The US Air Force's UAV Battlelab conducted the demonstration, in co-operation with DERA. It involved transmitting video images from a ground station to a General Atomics RQ-1A Predator UAV, for retransmission to a USN Grumman F-14D, then to a USAF Lockheed Martin F-16 and back again.

An RAF Jaguar and ground forward air controller participated in the UFIR demonstration because of its similarity to the UK's Extendor UAV programme. "Working together offered us the opportunity to test the Predator and PRISM-IDM and the interoperability between our aircraft," says DERA's Extendor programme manager, Ken Edwards. Extendor is a communications relay programme, evaluating the use of UAVs to replace satellites. Such a system could particularly suit the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System and similar datalinks.

More than 2,000 IDMs are in service with US and allied forces. Adding the capability to handle video images involves plugging the PhotoTelesis-developed PRISM module into one of the card slots inside the IDM, Symetrics says

Source: Flight International