The TDM technology is an alternative SATCOM capability designed to provide contingency communications for warfighters.

The evaluation took place during 2021 joint civilian-military exercise ‘Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX)’.

NIWC Atlantic systems engineer and TDM programme lead Mike Johnson said: “It was a great opportunity to get out and demonstrate our satellite surrogate to warfighters and other interested parties.

“Whether for nefarious reasons or challenging geographic settings like mountain ranges or polar regions, satellite coverage is not 100% guaranteed to warfighters, who require beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communications in a tactical environment.

“That’s where TDM can play a huge role as a fallback C3 system.”

The TDM aerial payload is fitted with a software-defined radio (SDR) acting as a smart relay, onboard a drone, aerostat or other airborne vehicle.

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This capability gives warfighters beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communications through tactical radios and a portable ground-control station.

Furthermore, TDM consumes less power and energy ‘to transmit to the aerial platform’.

During prototype development, the team ensured TDM’s compatibility with MUOS.

The MUOS is a US Navy-led programme that provides the US Department of Defense narrowband SATCOM capabilities and increased bandwidth.

NIWC Atlantic systems engineer Jason Pizarro said: “TDM keeps the lines of communication open over all existing MUOS equipment.

“We wanted to make operations as seamless as possible for the warfighter, whether they are on TDM or MUOS.”

According to the US Navy, next demonstration of TDM technology would be at Trident Warrior exercise, an annual large-scale naval drill scheduled for later this year.

In September 2019, NIWC Atlantic team designed a new Second Sight system equipped with a semi-autonomous ‘quadcopter’ drone to provide the soldier with a 360° situational awareness without having to repivot.