When we look at the definition of resilience: ‘The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’, this brings the focus to the simplistic aim of what industry are entrusted to deliver.
This edition of the Airbus’ Network for the Sky blog explores today’s ‘need-for’ and the complex technology enabling communications resilience as a core capability, and a fundamental enabler underpinning the effective response to any mission or emergency.
1. The need for resilience
In today’s warfare, achieving information superiority is a critical determinant of mission success. Operational advantage is gained through the ability to collect, process and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denying an enemy’s ability to do the same. The ability to instantly and continuously collect and share data direct from the battlefield is a fundamental requirement.
Users can experience a variety of threats or conditions which can degrade or even deny a service entirely including:
a. Interference – whether accidental or deliberate
b. Interception of traffic and traffic pattern analysis
c. Variable environmental conditions and in particular rain fade
2. The technology for resilience
Technology is certainly one of the key components to ensure communications resilience and is vital to achieve information superiority.
Airbus NFTS programme has a fundamental role in delivering communication superiority by developing the critical network infrastructure and management to support the combat cloud environment.
NFTS ensures connectivity resilience throughout missions via all assets, whether through high-speed satcom services, increased range via satellite extension to UHF/VHF, LTE, other data links, increased resilience via failover to alternative networks/bearers, or better interoperability between diverse air assets.
A key differentiator in a resilient SATCOM network is a modem which is far more resilient to threats or conditions than standard commercial modems. The Airbus Proteus modem offers a high level of protection from all aforementioned conditions.
Proteus is an IP-centric modem making it easy to integrate within a modern IP network. It uses a Software Defined Radio (SDR) platform that allows for a system which is flexible, efficient and easy to manage and use. It can also be updated in the future. The modem builds on a heritage of SDR modems, developed into a system and waveform that is exportable and dual-use, unlike most products with this level of resilience and performance.
The waveform hops frequency at a fast rate thus avoiding problems such as an interferer. By hopping in this manner and using advanced and adaptive coding and spreading techniques the modem can guarantee a minimum data rate and a maintained link even when up against a moderately high threat level. This is the Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) waveform.
The combination of this FHSS waveform running on a robust hardware platform, paired with security modules and dynamic channel management reacting to second-by-second changes in communication conditions creates a resilient and assured network.
3. Achieving end-to-end security and resilience
Through a phased approach Airbus’ NFTS delivers a range of end-to-end solutions to solve differing customer secure communications needs for communications resilience:
- Flexibility and redundancy: managed services over commercial and military satellites, with dual-band antennas and in-flight switching capabilities
- Continuity of service through anti-jamming and graceful degraded modes
- Redundancy with managed services across multiple networks
- Best Quality of experience through agile reconfiguration of datalinks, with priority to mission critical data.