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US Army to Improve Encryption of Drone Communications

The project aims to address the growing electronic warfare capabilities of adversaries such as China and Russia.

The US Army is collaborating with two companies to enable small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to deploy a robust, on-demand, highly-secure communications network.

This initiative is part of the US Army’s Reconfigurable Communications for Small Unmanned Systems (RCSUS) project. It aims to address the growing electronic warfare capabilities of peer and near-peer adversaries such as China and Russia.

Viasat is the project’s prime contractor. They will partner with AeroVironment to develop advanced, encrypted communications for AeroVironment’s tactical UAS Puma AE.

AeroVironment’s chief technology officer Scott Newbern said, “We will work to provide enhanced, secure communication capabilities via tactical unmanned aircraft systems operating at the battlefield’s edge.”

Under this joint venture, AeroVironment’s Digital Data Link (DDL) radios — currently used by the US Army — will be converted into a Type-1 crypto communication system for video and data transmission.

Additionally, the two companies will develop critical interoperability standards to generate a secure, digitally-encrypted communications network. They will also create a standardized communications architecture allowing UAS to access the spectrum easily — even in contested environments.

The project will help the US army set new waveform standards that maximize connectivity and minimize risks of signal intercept.

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