January 31, 2009:
After a decade of effort developing common data (Internet like) links for their equipment, the U.S. Army and Air Force are now developing a data standard for UAVs and aircraft sensors. The goal is to allow army and air force aircraft, as well as soldiers and airmen on the ground, to exchange data easily. Right now, all the sensors (vidcams, radars, heat imagers) capture data at different resolutions and speeds. The new TCDL (Tactical Common Data Link) makes this sharing possible by translating all the formats to a standard data stream.. Currently, the army can share UAV and helicopter videos with ground troops, and some air force video can be used by soldiers equipped with special equipment.
TCDL is an essential piece of equipment for the ultimate goal of a true battlefield Internet, where all services can easily share data, on a network that is protected from eavesdropping. It's not been easy to achieve this, since most sensors have, until now, been built with the idea that they would not have to share their data in real time. To do that requires data and transmission standards. TCDL is a large step in the direction of having all the needed standards.