Horizon Technologies has completed the development of its Xtender satellite phone monitoring system, which enables small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to operate as signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection platforms.
Xtender supports simultaneous monitoring of L-band communications from Thuraya and Inmarsat iSatPhone Pro systems. It weighs less than 0.5 kg and can be integrated on small military or commercial UAVs; it can also equip CubeSats.
The unit works by acting as the remote RF front-end for a FlyingFish Airborne Satellite Monitoring System. It collects the transmit and receive sides of a satellite phone call and converts them to compressed digital data streams for transmission via the UAV’s datalink to the ground control station (GCS), at which the FlyingFish system is integrated.
Now in its third generation, FlyingFish processes the data and has the capability to simultaneously monitor and analyse 64 duplex channels (32 Thuraya channels and 32 iSatPhone Pro channels), and is available with optional integrated AIS and GPS receivers. As well as communications, satellite phones broadcast geolocation data required for target co-ordinates.
A benefit of the remote transmission capability is that no secure information remains on the air vehicle.
Jane’s understands that Horizon Technologies plans to demonstrate Xtender to US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in the United States in late March 2018, and that the US Navy has expressed interest in adding Xtender to the submarine-launched Blackwing UAV, and a small single-use UAV deployed on naval vessels.
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