Air Force asks General Atomics to upgrade UAV ground-control stations for use with the Internet

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 20 March 2014. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) experts at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. in Poway, Calif., are performing major software upgrades on U.S. Air Force UAV ground control stations to enhance UAV ground control over the Internet.

Pilots ready to control UAVs over the Internet
Pilots ready to control UAVs over the Internet
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 20 March 2014. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) experts at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. in Poway, Calif., are performing major software upgrades on U.S. Air Force UAV ground control stations to enhance UAV ground control over the Internet.

Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, announced a $57.5 million order to General Atomics Wednesday to upgrade the Remote Split Operations (RSO) network to support Internet Protocol (IP) data standards.

The RSO network enables UAV pilots in different locations to control unmanned aircraft in different phases of missions. UAV satellite-control links can have a one-second delay, which is inadequate for sensitive control during takeoff and landing.

UAV pilots within visual range of their aircraft usually handle takeoff and landing, and then hand off control of the UAVs to controllers at consolidated locations, who handle much of the mission tasks via satellite links.

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The Internet Protocol (IP) enables Internet networking, and essentially establishes the Internet. It delivers data packets from the source host to the destination host solely based on the IP addresses in the packet headers.

General Atomics will provide software upgrades for several kinds of UAV control stations, including control stations at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., and Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

For this contract, General Atomics specialists will provide 234 Ground Control Station kits; seven containerized dual-control segment kits; 25 Squadron Operations Center (SOC) low-density kits; five Creech SOC low density kits; six Creech SOC high density kits; 24 relay kits; 71 relay circuit to packet kits; three Creech wide-area network kits; one Cannon WAN kit; 26 WAN LD kits; two Cannon SOC kits; 17 relay rack kits; ten network management kits; and related spares and support equipment.

General Atomics manufactures the MQ-1 Predator reconnaissance UAV, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV, and the MQ-9 Reaper armed attack UAV. The company also designs several kinds of ground-control stations for these unmanned aircraft.

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The General Atomics Standard Ground Control Station (GCS) has pilot and payload operator stations; redundant control; MIL-STD heads-up display; multi-function workstations (MFW); is C-130 transportable; and offers fixed facility or mobile shelter configurations.

The company also offers multi-aircraft control of four UAVs from one GCS. This capability offers crew stations for one pilot and four sensor operators. The pilot can select which of the four UAVs is under his direct control, while the four sensor operators maintain continuous control of sensors. The Sensor operators can control on-board sensors with point-and-click commands.

The General Atomics Containerized Dual Control Segment (CDCS) offers transport case portable and rapid deployment; aircraft control to include launch and recovery; single-operator aircraft and sensor control; and satellite communications (SATCOM) and Remote Split Operations capability.

The company's Multi-Function Workstation offers mission planning; mission monitoring; data exploitation; radar control; video recording; video and data archiving; integration with GPS navigation; and health and status monitoring.

On this contract General Atomics will do the work in Poway, Calif., and should be finished by the end of 2015. For more information contact General Atomics Aeronautical Systems online at www.ga-asi.com, or the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base at www.wpafb.af.mil/aflcmc.

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