Boeing shows off working software radios

As part of its ongoing work supporting Air Force communications, Boeing has demonstrated that its secure software-defined radio terminals could work for satellite communications, the company said.

The demonstration simulated establishing a communications link to an Advanced Extremely High Frequency/Military Strategic and Tactical Relay satellite.

Company executives are hoping that these terminals, part of the company's Family of Advanced Beyond line-of-sight Terminals (FAB-T) software-defined radios, will one day link Air Force ground, air and space platforms.

FAB-T provides an open architecture that could be used by different satellites and ground stations that all use different communications systems. By going with software-defined radio protocols, participants can use a variety of different waveforms.

"FAB-T is programmable and reconfigurable in the field, allowing warfighters to customize high-data-rate communications to meet changing mission requirements," said Jim Dodd, Boeing FAB-T program director, in a statement.

This demonstration marks the completion of the first phase of the development/acquisition program with the Air Force to build a software-defined radio terminal.

Last July, the company demonstrated a low-data-rate downlink from an operational Milstar satellite. Boeing is now working on uplink tests and interoperability tests, and hopes to have a live over-the-air test completed by the end of this year.

This phase required creating a FAB-T system that would work with Milstar and AEHF satellite systems. The second phase is for developing terminals to work for wideband satellite operations used by surveillance aircraft such as the Global Hawk.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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