An airborne C-17 aircraft was part of a test examining the capabilities of performing air-to-ground communications using wideband high-frequency (WBHF) communications equipment. (Photo courtesy of the Boeing Co.)
For the first time, Rockwell Collins completed a complex data transfer from an airborne C-17 aircraft to a ground station using a wideband high-frequency (WBHF) communications channel. The air-to-ground data link was accomplished in collaboration with the U.S. Air Force. It took place over the duration of a two-day flight, between Dover Air Force Base (AFB) Delaware and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, using a WBHF receiver-exciter configured for airborne operation.
“WBHF is a highly reliable solution for the transfer of data, including video, and the perfect complement to traditional satcom communications in denied environments,” says Mike Jones, vice president and general manager for Rockwell Collins’ Navigation & Electronic Warfare Solutions. “The result is a low-cost replacement that leverages the platform’s current HF system infrastructure to create an HF solution with performance never before available.”
The demonstration included transfers of streaming video, real-time chat, file transfers, and digital voice audio over distances of 1,500 miles and more. Compared to traditional HF communications, WBHF provides much higher data throughput. It is an effective complement to satellite-communications (satcom) links where satellite signals are limited or unavailable. WBHF systems can perform transfers of large data files at speeds comparable to narrowband satcom systems.