Warplanes Transformed into Flying Wireless Routers

-Courtesy of The Aviationist

A-10 flares

The U.S. Air Force is trying to turn the targeting pods carried by some of its legacy fighters and the B-1 Lancer bomber, into flying wireless routers that would allow ground troops to communicate each other.

Tested by the 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on an A-10 Warthog, the flying router is a software upgrade called Net-T (network tactical) for the Litening II and Sniper advanced targeting pods.

It allows ground units on patrol to interconnect each other by way of Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) 5, a portable terminal similar to a tablet or a mini-iPAD that JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers) use to receive realtime footage from the aircraft targeting pods.

ROVER systems are used by JTACs to determine whether the pilot on a nearby combat plane is cueing the weapons to the correct ground target.

Until now, ROVERs could only upload and download data from a nearby aircraft. With the new capability, that has begun developmental testing in October 2012 and flown 23 sorties so far, data streams from different terminals will be routed by the pod.

In other words, different units on the ground, in “line of sight” to the fighter plane, will be able to exchange imagery, maps and any file type without relying on satellite or radio communication.

Obviously, such wireless network will need to be protected with proper security measures, in order to prevent enemy from eavesdropping traffic or sending malware to the various peers.

According to Maj. Olivia Elliot, the 40th FLTS A-10 flight commander who undertook the test flight for the Warthog, the Net-T portion of the targeting pod is quite easy to operate and once the proper settings are configured “it’s a single button push” and the pilot’s only concern is to remain within range of the system.

During testing activity aimed to discover the operational envelope of the system, five ROVER terminals were set up within the Eglin range and data exchange was tested on a variety of aircraft and pod types, including F-16, F-15E and B-1B.

Such tests by 53rd Wing’s “Team Eglin” will be used to validate the system, that is expected to enter the active service by 2014.


About Five 9s Digital, LLC

Five 9s Digital is a data center real estate company offering data center development, investment sales, real estate advisory, and colocation and wholesale data center selection and procurement services. Five 9s Digital has been involved in the development and ownership of multiple mission critical facilities from single user build-to-suit facilities to multi-tenant data centers. Five 9s Digital brings a wealth of experience, background and expertise in providing solutions to the data center arena. Due to the specific and yet evolving requirements of mission critical end users in today’s world, Five 9s Digital is able to offer real solutions, real facilities, and real choices due its extensive and up-to-date knowledge base. Five 9s Digital is a Best Data Sites Certification Alliance™ member.
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