Until a few years ago, small unmanned aircraft had an effective operating radius of 50 miles or so because they were tethered to line-of-sight communications. Satellite links might have given them greater reach, but the necessary equipment exceeded their payload capacity. Boeing subsidiary Insitu has overcome that limitation by adapting lightweight SATCOM capability to its Blackjack unmanned aircraft–effectively turning Blackjack into a theater-range system. This has major operational implications, and it comes just as bigger, more expensive unmanned aircraft are growing too vulnerable to operate near the territory of some potential adversaries. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
Find Archived Articles: