AeroVironment has developed a Long Range Tracking Antenna (LRTA) system for operation with its Puma AE small unmanned aircraft system (UAS).
Speaking to Jane’s at DSEI 2017 in London, Trace Stevenson, the company’s vice president and deputy general manager, said that the new command-and-control (C2) system had been developed in response to operator feedback and extends the maximum control range from 20 km to 60 km.
Stevenson said that the concept of operations for the LTRA would see a forward deployed element launch and recover the aircraft, with the C2 group at a command location.
While the LTRA is geared for the Puma aircraft, it can operate with any AeroVironment system that features the company’s digital datalink (military operating bands M3 and M4).
The DDL compatibility supports inter-operation with a wide range of assets that use the M3 and M4 wavebands, including AeroVironment’s own Pocket Digital Data Link (pDDL AE) transceivers and Pocket RVT (pRVT) video transceivers.
For long-range communications the high-gain antenna is employed, but this automatically switches to the omni-directional antenna for close-range operation.
The LTRA is integrated on a two-axis tracking positioner, enabling automatic or manual tracking of an aircraft.
The LTRA has an all-up weight – including the antenna assembly, ground control station, cables, and battery – of 300 lb (136 kg), and so cannot be considered to be a manportable system.
Stevenson said that the company expects to field the first units with operators in March 2018.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options: ihs.com/contact