Electronic Weapons: USAF Puts DSL Into the Air

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June 24, 2006: American combat aircraft are receiving a DSL upgrade for their communications equipment. Since the 1970s, combat aircraft have been equipped with the type 1553 standard military data bus. This has a maximum data transfer speed of 1 Megabit per second (Mbps), and this 1553 data bus has become insufficient for what of new components and weapon systems need. Up to now certain components could be only integrated with expensive fiber optic wire upgrades within the aircraft.

Boeing has now identified a more cost effective method to increase data transmission speeds in aircraft. The HyPer-1553-Data-bus uses the same type of technology found in DSL employed by millions of Internet users. The existing wires in an aircraft can be made to operate with higher frequencies (10 MHz or more instead of the regular 1 to 2 MHz). With this technique data exchange rates of up to 40 Mbps parallel to the regular signals are possible, or even up to 120 Mbps if only the higher frequencies are used.

Potential problems of this new method are a higher interference rate and signal absorption effects. Recently Boeing has proven the effectiveness and reliability of the system through a test flight of a F-15E. This aircraft was equipped with an additional computer and new interface cards, which allowed the transfer of pictures of a sensor on top of a JDAM to the computer in the aircraft.

One crucial application for this enhanced data exchange standard would be the Global Information Grid of the Pentagon via Link 16 (an air force standard for high speed data transfers). All this is the U.S. Air Force version of the battlefield Internet, and it needs high speed data transfer in order to work.-- Joachim Hofbauer

 


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