Network for the Sky: Connectivity challenges in Defence today

Featured stories - Publication date : 17 April 2019
Network for the Sky: Connectivity challenges in Defence today

Welcome to the Aero Defence Connectivity blog, a series, designed to give insight into Aero Communications.

In this series we will cover the current challenges, new technology and future advances of the Aero Defence Battlespace. Hear from our industry experts on how to bridge the gap between current solutions and the air mission needs of today and the future.

What are the Connectivity challenges in Defence today?

In defence, achieving information superiority is a critical determinant of mission success. The ability to instantly and continuously collect and share data direct from the battlespace is a crucial requirement. Alongside this, there is the need to minimise the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) loop so that it is shorter than adversaries’, in order to maximise command and control performance.

Airborne assets provide a significant opportunity to enhance communication links between air, ground and surface assets, reducing decision making time within the OODA loop. However, in the airborne environment, this is often difficult to achieve using current communications configurations.

Typically, individual aircraft operate in simple connectivity silos and are limited in their communications, for example, line of sight from ground station to the aircraft only. This often creates narrow channels of communications resulting in diminished multi-mission capability. Usually only a small section of the overall network may be connected and utilised. The limited interoperability between these standalone communication methods heavily restricts the current ability to communicate across networks. Therefore, multi-mission capability – and the cost-savings it could generate – is often not possible.

Current communication types, for instance Link 16 and VHF, are limited in the amount of data they can carry. This limits the speed between obtaining the situational awareness and coordinating a synchronised response.

With the ever growing need to be more operationally effective and efficient), the requirement for advanced communications is clear. Currently, many aircraft remain restricted to Line Of Sight voice and limiting data communications; however, with the change in market demands, , there is a strong desire for much greater transfer of data, over greater distances and the need for Beyond Line of Sight communications.

Chief of the Air Staff – Sir Stephen Hillier – recently wrote, “The world is rapidly changing and the freedom the Western Air Forces have enjoyed for nearly three decades in leveraging the asymmetric advantages of their air power is diminishing. Air Power will not, however, decline in importance.  Indeed the degree to which control of the air is increasingly being contested underlies its vital importance to all current and future joint military operations.” Routledge Handbook of Air Power

Increased mission efficiency and effectiveness

With unmatched end-to-end expertise, Airbus plays a fundamental role in overcoming these challenges.

Network for the Sky (NFTS) is the foundation for the connected battlespace. Securely and reliably connecting all your airborne assets together with the rest of your operations, NFTS gives you the communications superiority to execute the mission more efficiently and effectively, as one.

Operating over a mix of technologies to form one resilient, high-speed global network, NFTS delivers seamless voice, data and video to support the most advanced applications.

Allowing all mission participants to communicate throughout the entire mission, NFTS offers:

  • Increased mission efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Faster, synchronised response;
  • Faster, better decision making;
  • Enhanced situational awareness; and
  • Communications superiority.


With the flexibility and versatility of multi-mission aircraft, NFTS is the modular, end-to-end solution for secure, networked, high-speed airborne communications.

Want to find out more? Read: Airbus reveals its Network For The Sky military communications solution

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