Build or Buy: Comparing Assembled and Integrated ISR Link Solutions

There is a wide selection of highly reliable and high throughput radio systems capable of operating in the most adverse spectral conditions . Companies such as Silvus Technologies, Persistent Systems, Domo Tactical Communications, and Doodle Labs are among the radio manufacturers of choice for UAS when a high data-rate, long distance link is needed . All of these radios are capable of UDP throughputs in excess of 50 Mbps, which can easily support data-intensive tasks such as multiple HD video feeds.

Achieving acceptable throughput over shorter (<10 km) hops is easily accomplished with the default 1-3W output power per channel the aforementioned radios are capable of . However, when a longer link needs to be closed, or the radios are not operating at their maximum throughput over a target distance, increasing the link’s RF power is one of several quick and viable methods for addressing this problem . A common way of increasing an ISR link’s RF power is to add a bi-directional amplifier (BDA) connected to a multi-input-multi-output (MIMO) radio inline with the RF path to the antenna . This approach may pose challenges to the unmanned system operator that high performance, turnkey ISR Link solutions won’t .

This technical brief endeavors to describe to readers the potential issues associated with deploying “bolt-on” ISR link signal boosting systems, and several ways that turnkey ISR Link solutions result in superior performance and more reliable systems.

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