Astrium Completes Testing and Delivery of Airborne Satcom System to the Canadian Department of National Defence

Astrium has completed testing a new airborne satcom terminal for the Canadian National Defence (DND).


AirPatrol, is the latest generation airborne satcom terminal from Astrium. With the completion of a testing period, it is now “flight proven”. It commenced flight trials with the Canadian DND as part of the RIFL2E (Radar and Imaging for the Land/Littoral Environment) coastal surveillance project.
The system has been qualified for operation in a robust airborne environment and is installed on board a Convair CV-580 aircraft. AirPatrol delivers broadband providing real time, high resolution imagery for Canadian coastal surveillance.
The RIFL2E project is designed to enhance coastal surveillance and support Canadian northern sovereignty. The AirPatrol terminal, together with Astrium Services’ Skynet X-band satellite capacity, will enable the DND to evaluate the operational capability of their airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) test platform.
Aidan Joy, Executive Director of Astrium Services’ Satcom Systems & Solutions, said: “This is a key milestone for our airborne satcom programme; we have achieved airborne qualification and airframe integration, and excellent results in early flight testing with the system achieving a transmission data rate of over 11 Mbps while accurately tracking the satellite via the beacon receiver.”
AirPatrol was introduced two years ago by Astrium Services’ Secure Satcom Systems. The contract with the DND was awarded last February. AirPatrol is designed for military and government customers who need beyond line of sight connectivity to their secure networks, and high rate transmission of sensor data for shared situational awareness and enhanced mission effectiveness. The modular system is flexible enough to integrate onto fixed, rotary and unmanned platforms.
Military and other customers are increasingly reliant on the secure transmission of video, multispectral and radar imagery, particularly from UAVs. AirPatrol’s has the capacity to transmit large volumes of data and stream live images from UAV reconnaissance missions directly to ground based receivers.
The light-weight design of the terminal, made possible with the use of composite materials, means that AirPatrol can be much more easily integrated onto a variety of aircraft than its heavier alloy alternatives. A typical configuration of AirPatrol weighs just 16kg, ensuring that the terminal has a minimum impact on an aircraft’s overall flight performance. AirPatrol incorporates an advanced stabilisation system that is designed to handle complex airborne manoeuvres, so that the antenna always remains accurately pointed to maintain a secure communication link at all times.
The flexibility of AirPatrol also provides the opportunity to support civil applications, such as coastguard patrols, emergency and rescue services and policing international borders.

About Randy Attwood

Randy Attwood
Amateur astronomer, astrophotographer, space exploration historian. Executive Director, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada / Publisher - SkyNews magazine.

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