AIR FORCE NEWS
New Link-16 Radios to Connect Ground, Air
Viasat recently inked a deal with the Air Force to provide Link 16-capable handheld radios to warfighters.
The five-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract was awarded to the California-based communications company to supply the service with handheld battlefield awareness and targeting system dismounted, or BATS-D, radios. Link-16 is a network used by U.S. and coalition forces to pass information and provide situational awareness.
The devices were designed to improve communication between air and ground forces by giving warfighters real-time, secure access to information.
The radios were created before the Defense Department called for the capability, said Andy Kessler, vice president and business area director for Viasat.
There was “a demand signal from operational warfighters that said they needed a way to effectively do digitally aided close-air support more efficiently [and] more quickly,” he said.
The company created a radio to meet the mission requirements, Kessler said.
“Essentially we took the initiative to develop it based upon our understanding of what the market would need, and then we went ahead and brought that to a variety of different customers,” he added.
The concept for the capability was developed in late 2015 — and in less than 18 months the company had prototype radios in the hands of operational users, communicating with aircraft to gather feedback.
“I would argue that that is probably an order of magnitude faster than a typical program of record,” Kessler said. A traditional program of record with the Defense Department could have an eight- to 10-year evolution, he added.
The company has shipped approximately 2,500 of the handheld radios to personnel worldwide.
The contract was awarded in December and covers associated operator training and maintenance, the company said in a press release.
Viasat was also awarded a contract last year to build a low-Earth orbit satellite equipped with a Link 16-capable terminal.
Topics: Air Force News