Ultra Electronics' TACPOD MQ-9 Predator B test flights successful

Ultra Electronics, Advanced Tactical Systems’ (ATS) Tactical Airborne Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I) Pod (TACPODTM) has successfully flown onboard the MQ-9 Predator B aircraft.

“We have gone from concept to air worthiness in less than a year,” said ATS President John McAlonan. “We are focused on delivering affordable interoperability solutions to the military and with this entry into the unmanned aircraft system market we are delivering a first-in-class capability to the warfighter.”

Weighing only 109 lbs, TACPOD is a selfcontained, configurable, external communications payload for manned and unmanned aircraft. Along with the ground control unit, TACPOD solves connectivity and interoperability deficiencies at the tactical edge by providing two primary services: tactical data link gateway and communications relay.

Ultra conceived and developed TACPOD in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force in a manner that takes advantage of open architecture and available best-of-breed components and does so at a fraction of the size, weight, cost, power requirement and development time of large program solutions.

Housing mission-defined communication components in a form factor that optimizes size, weight and power consumption (SWaP)—as well as offering reasonable cost and short production lead time—TACPOD provides immediate benefit to warfighters.

Carrying the software found in Ultra’s renowned Air Defense Systems Integrator (ADSI)® product, TACPOD's onboard processor receives track data from disparate tactical data links such as Link 16 and Situational Awareness Data Link (SADL), translates between the various message formats and forwards the combined tactical data back out along all connected waveforms. This increased interoperability allows users on normally incompatible networks to share a single Common Operational Picture (COP) and Situational Awareness (SA).

TACPOD contains a collection of off-the-shelf voice and data radios and other components as required by the mission, all integrated without the creation of any new hardware, software, protocols, standards or radio waveforms.

TACPOD’s antennas are self-contained so the unit only requires a standard attachment point and power from the host aircraft. In all other respects, TACPOD is a non-invasive payload. Once configured with optional communication components, a TACPOD is permanently available to serve out its defined mission capabilities in a snap-on, snap-off fashion onboard any air platform for which it is qualified.

Payload capabilities include air-to-air and air-to-ground voice and data radios, satellite communications (SATCOM), Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) sensors, video, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), electronic intelligence (ELINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT) and others as limited only by size, weight and power budget.

TACPOD assures voice and data interconnectivity between ground units and offers Beyond Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) reachback from tactical edge positions to command centers and the Global Information Grid (GIG). In addition to these primary missions, TACPOD can also provide SATCOM access, payload initialization, storage, query, file sharing, crypto rekeying, machine-to-machine targeting, collaborative engagement and video dissemination—even across limited bandwidth.

Ultra is moving forward with further internal developments of TACPOD to serve specialized mission needs and provide rapid reaction communications capability to additional air platforms both large and small, as well as homeland security and other commercial applications.

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Source: Ultra Electronics
Date: Jan 31, 2012