Posts: 262
Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:47 pm

Military Data Links Questions

Fri May 02, 2008 3:04 am

I have been reading a lot of information about Link 16, and the messaging procedures it employs. The Link 16 system is the standard datalink for most NATO forces, however it cannot be used to relay information via satellites. Link 16 does allow for the relaying of messages via other Link 16 equipped vehicles which increases the Line-Of-Sight limited operation of the UHF based system. But to send data over large distances, SatCom is pretty much the only alternative. But what is the equivalent system used for this?

Secondly, Link 16 is not capable of transmission of images or video. If live streaming video was desired from a UAV, what system is most likely to be used by the military for this?

Thanks to anyone who can help out.
Posts: 1217
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2001 6:44 am

RE: Military Data Links Questions

Sun May 04, 2008 10:19 pm

Link 16 was developed before UAVs / streaming video ever became mainstream like it is today.

There are several different transmission paths to Link 16, there is Link 16 LOS - which uses UHF frequencies, it is limited to the horizon. You can also set up a Link 16 network through a satellite over UHF satcom - it's still UHF but it is sent up to a satellite - so that units over the horizon can participate in the Link 16 network - the limitation being that not all units may be able to access a satellite - if it can, it may have its satellite receiver used for a different purpose - most older ships have a single DAMA - which combine 4 radio/data circuits into one UHF SATCOM radio to uplink to a satellite - so the most number of satellite voice/data links (one of which will be a Link 16 net if it chooses) they can have up on satellite at any one time is 4. The AEGIS, carriers, command ships have dual DAMA units so can be up on 8 satellite voice/data links at a time. You get voice, data, and a rudimentary Zircon "chat" (before today's widely used Microsoft Chat.) over Link 16.

Streaming video and "internet chat rooms" that are in operation centers these days use leased bandwidth off commercial satellites using commercial off the shelf equipment - it's not a specifically designed military system. Generally for major warships it's a T1 line up to a satellite. smaller warships timeshare their "internet" time on a smaller pipe. Carriers and command ships will have two T1 lines up to a satellite - one for the "secure" side data and one for general "goofing off /" internet surfing.
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