Expanding the use of aerial downlinks: Page 2 of 4

April 04, 2012 // By John Payne IV, IMT Chief Technology Officer
Today, airborne downlinks are no longer limited to strategic command applications. More and more, first responders, fire departments, EMS, CBP and others are employing airborne downlinks to meet a diverse array of needs. Through the use of digital downlink technology, these systems are easier to use, eliminating the need for highly trained technical personnel to operate them. They also now have full-featured infrared cameras and secure digital COFDM transmitters, allowing users to share the video intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information across multiple organizations and agencies.
antenna system needed for a specific application. The terrain of the area will determine the best type of system, as mountainous and city locations require a different solution than a more rural area. Also, the distance between receive sites is a major factor.

The results

Once the video has been transmitted, several individuals can review it simultaneously. Sharing real-time video minimizes the need for voice instructions over a two-way radio. The video is typically transmitted back to a strategic command center, where it is displayed on a display wall and archived for forensic use. This type of video is especially useful for tactical operations. Video can be shared with such ground personnel as, for example, a firefighter looking to position water for optimal effect, a policeman in a squad car helping to identify suspects during a drug intervention or even first responders needing video surveillance during a rescue.

The downlink feed can be used more effectively with the deployment of the right type of system. With the correct camera, encoding, BCRYPT AES encryption and COFDM digital transmission, video can be shared without bounds. Proprietary systems will limit the ability to share feeds, ultimately costing additional money and potentially the loss of valuable aerial platform during budget tightening. With the universal COFDM standard, a multitude of receivers are available, ranging from a small body-worn application to a county- or state-wide system.

The products

IMT’s SkymasterTX aircraft transmitter features both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 encoding, BCRYPT AES encryption and COFDM modulation. All this is packaged in an airframe-friendly NVG ARINC fast-deployable rugged chassis, intended to be mounted directly into an aircraft’s console. SkymasterTX is designed for any application requiring reliable video downlink from an aircraft. Fire departments find SkymasterTX to be specifically useful due to its effectiveness with infrared cameras, as they can view a fire from the air and see where all the hotspots are, without having to send personnel into a

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