Network For The Sky

Shaping the future of air connectivity: an opportunity for networked communications and aero connectivity

In defence, achieving information superiority and the ability to instantly and continuously collect and share data directly from the battlespace is a critical determinant of mission success. Currently, many aircraft remain restricted to Line Of Sight voice and limiting­­ data communications; however, with the ever growing need to be more operationally effective and efficient, the requirement for advanced communications is clear.

Airborne assets provide a significant opportunity to reduce decision making time through the enhancement of communication links between air, ground and surface assets. However, in the airborne environment, this is often difficult to achieve using current communications configurations.

Network for the Sky (NFTS) addresses the current challenges’ facing today’s networked communications and enables greater interoperability, resilience and bandwidth to form the full operational picture.

Providing connectivity throughout the entire duration of air missions, secure networks deliver information superiority, extend aircraft multi-mission capabilities, and enable real-time sharing of applications and data via a combat cloud.

Making the impossible, possible, NFTS successfully tested and proved a new generation of long-range communications from the stratosphere. Demonstrating the ability to quickly deploy secure, ad-hoc LTE networks as a complement to satellite connectivity and UHF/VHF networks, NFTS hold the ability to re-task in-flight aircraft from the ground by uploading updated mission plans, and enable the operation of tactical UAV fleets in swarms.

NFTS combines a mixture of technologies to deliver as one. Integrating satellite links with geostationary, medium and low Earth orbit constellations; tactical air-to-ground, ground-to-air and air-to-air links; voice links; 5G mobile communication cells and laser connections into a single global secure network, this intelligent network can be reconfigured at any time, while prioritising exchanges based on data flows, mission objectives and available bandwidth on the different links.

Paving the way to smart airborne connectivity, we successfully completed a flight demonstration of a connected airborne battlespace scenario. Centred on a MRTT aircraft, the demonstration simulated the establishment of multi-Mbit/s, wideband communication links between ground forces operatives, a fighter jet, a MRTT, and a combined air operations centre (CAOC) on the ground.

An extensive and scalable portfolio to meet your airborne mission requirements

NFTS is available as individual, scalable elements to a complete end-to-end solution, across four key areas of the Airbus Secure Communications portfolio:

1° Airbus and ‘Best in Class’ third party Airborne Equipment

  • Airbus Antennas  - Air Patrol/ Janus
  • Proteus, a software-defined radio-based satellite modem for secure IP-centric communications. Designed for fixed, land mobile, airborne and naval platforms, Proteus delivers satellite bandwidth efficiency and data throughout while offering robust protection against jamming and interception. Read about Information Resilience  
  • Secure Communications Node
2° Airborne communications
  • Secure Hybrid Connectivity
  • Tailored Communication Services

3° Network Services 

  • End to End managed services ( provided as infrastructure or services )
  • End to End Guaranteed bandwidth management  ( Ground Network, or IP Address )
  • Network Service Orchestration
  • Multi-level Security management and Data Analytics
  • Interconnection from Airbus Teleports to customer network or customer teleport management
  • SmartDeploy – a modular suite of integrated software applications that automates the end-to-end process of ordering, planning and configuring a satellite communications network.

4° Support Services 

  • A wide range of support Service from Training, In-field engineering support, Aircraft Integration Support, Consultancy, Cyber Risk Assessment and 24/365 Helpdesk

Airbus’ Future Combat Air System: connected assets with Network for the Sky. Providing connectivity throughout the entire duration of air missions. 

Secure, resilient networks will enable information superiority and extend the multi-mission capabilities of aircraft. Mission ‘participants’ will have the ability to share, in real-time, applications and data stored on board via a combat cloud. Re-task in-flight combat aircraft and helicopters from the ground by uploading updated mission plans, as well as enabling the operation of fleets of tactical UAVs in swarms.

Through a phased implementation, NFTS will see the rollout of a new generation of capabilities, including communication terminals and antennas that can be easily integrated into the fuselage which are capable of managing different frequency bands whilst remaining connected despite rapid manoeuvres by the aircraft.