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Unmanned Aerial System Performance in Airborne Communications Relay Open Access

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Naval aircraft communication terminals have been developed through "stovepipe" architectures that result in a lack of interoperability between aircraft. The lack of end-to-end information sharing between naval systems is due to a lack of robust, system-of-systems design to achieve interoperability beyond system boundaries.The Navy may operate many aircraft in a region tasked to achieve a single mission objective. Each aircraft is designed to perform a set of mission tasks and each aircraft must share the information it has gathered with the other aircraft in the region so that the entire system of aircrafts in the mission region can achieve mission success. A number of network capability gaps have been identified that obstruct the flow of information into a common operational tactical picture. Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms that develop or create the tactical picture in the mission must be able to provide intelligence to platforms that continue the mission in later phases of the mission. Military Operations Research studies have generally assumed that the communications architectures required to support a Common Operational Tactical Picture exist in the region (mission area). In this study I will analyze the existing communication network capability in order to find an optimal network architecture that will fully connect all aircraft in a mission region. Then conduct an analysis of the effectiveness of the existing network architecture of the aircraft in the mission region against the application of Border Gateway Protocol. The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) can be used to create a fully connected network of networks in a mission area.Multiple heterogeneous networks must operate as if it were a single homogeneous network in order to send and receive data between many different types of aircraft in the mission region. Can this be accomplished without additional requirements to existing aircraft program management?This study was conducted in three phases. Those phases were Scenario Development, Communications Link Analysis, and Interoperability Analysis. The purpose of the Scenario Development phase was to define the problem in an operational context and scope the problem. The completion of this phase resulted in the creation of an operational view, scenario timeline, and a definition of the existing communications architecture. The scenario development phase identifies the Navy's interoperability needs through analysis of the existing communication architecture (constraints) and connections required from source to destination objects in the region (objectives). Broad aircraft to aircraft interoperability gaps that are identified in the scenario development phase are analyzed in detail in the Interoperability Analysis phase of this study.The purpose of the Communication Link Analysis phase was to evaluate the data link terminals on the air vehicles in the scenario. The data link terminals must be able to send and receive data sufficiently in order to maintain connections between dis-joined users in the mission area. The purpose of the Interoperability Analysis phase was to further analyze the results of the scenario development and communications link analysis in order to understand the risks of implementing Border Gateway Protocol onboard current aircraft and quantify the tradespace of input variables that make proposed solutions viable investments for the Navy, and understand the underlying complexity of proposed technologies.

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