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11 Nov 13. The Ka band or ’satellite super-highway’ – a fast, uncongested and rarely used satellite network – has been opened up by a team of engineers, including BAE Systems, with the aim of supporting UK unmanned aircraft missions in the future. The effective use of satellite communication systems is essential to help facilitate the safe and routine flying of unmanned aircraft in airspace, which BAE Systems is helping to pioneer. UAVs (unmanned air vehicles) need to be able to transfer large amounts of data quickly and securely during missions. In a UK-first, experts working at BAE Systems Future Combat Air Systems (FCAS) business, in partnership with engineers from aerospace company Astrium, have found a way to use a ‘communications corridor’ within the Ka-band to send large amounts of data into space. To test the ‘corridor’ the team connected the latest BAE Systems UAV Mission System and associated UAV Control Station to the EADS Astrium Air Patrol Ka band Satellite Communications System, which was in turn bolted down to a moving platform supplied by Astrium termed the ‘rocking bed’ to allow mission system software to communicate over the satellite link. Although the ‘rocking bed’ never actually left the ground it was able to replicate the profile of an unmanned aircraft allowing the systems to be tested as if they were on-board a UAV flying a real mission. The data was able to complete four ‘hops’ from the testing facility in Poynton, Cheshire, to the satellite and from the satellite to Goonhilly Downs station in Cornwall and back again – a distance of 144,000km – more than a third of the distance from the Earth to the moon. ‘By hitching a ride’ on the new satellite super-highway, data can bypass the already-congested satellite pathways which are crowded with data generated by non-military sources including numerous TV stations. The trial took place at Astrium’s advanced manufacturing facility in Poynton, Cheshire, and was the culmination of two years’ work by BAE Systems, Astrium and satellite provider Avanti Communications.

13 Nov 13. GE Intelligent Platforms announced two further additions to its rapidly expanding family of COTS Rugged Systems (CRS) that are designed to minimize program risk, cost and time to market. Available as pre-configured, ready-to-run systems, and bringing the total number of standard CRS solutions offered by GE to ten, they are available on very short lead times for customers looking to make an immediate start on systems development. Both new systems are intended for deployment in demanding, harsh environments such as civilian and military autonomous vehicles, commercial and military aircraft, ground vehicles, helicopters, over- and underwater research vessels, and locomotives. The first system, the CRS-D4I-3VB1, is a conduction, cold plate cooled, 3U VPX application-ready computer; housed in a 4-slot chassis utilizing a single board computer featuring Intel®Core™ i7 processor technology. The second, the CRS-D8I-3VF1, is also a 3U VPX platform centered on an Intel Core i7 processor, but it is housed in a ½ ATR rugged conduction, forced air cooled chassis, and affords additional flexibility/expandability through the provision of eight slots. Both systems offer significant I/O capability including MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, serial, discrete, USB, audio, Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, DVI, and HD-SDI. Both solutions are powered by a 28 VDC power supply that meets MIL-STD-704F. The ½ ATR solution also has the option to support a 115 VAC, 400Hz single-phase power supply. The solutions are designed to withstand the most demanding environments in accordance with MIL-STD-810.

11 Nov 13. Marine Corps Systems Command is conducting a market survey into the availability of non-developmental radio equipment that can support legacy and future waveforms. The radio system, includi

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