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Activity title

Airborne Beyond Line of Sight Communication Network

Activity Reference

IST-172 (COM)


Information Systems Technology

Security Classification




Activity type


Start date


End date



Airborne Communication, BLOS, Drone, FANET, MANET, MultiUAV, Relay, SATCOM, Satellite


This RTG is to lay the scientific and technological foundations for the realization of an airborne-hosted communication network to provide beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) range extension for ground, maritime and air forces. The BLOS network was first envisioned in the final report from NATO IST ET-102.


The aim is to share the vision of a federated airborne with the NATO research community and gather the key stakeholders. The relevant technologies, concepts and enablers identified in ET-102 need to be reviewed and broadened. Research activities should include specific radio technologies, link technologies, networking methods and transport protocols which should be used in an airborne network. Key research activity should be to design and develop the interaction and cooperation of these elements. It is crucial to fully understand the implications of the airborne network on the end-to-end quality such as latency, throughput and time-to-configure on the ability to support existing services and applications as well as future use cases. This research task group should collect a small set of relevant use cases from the participation nations, derive the key performance metrics, and design the BLOS network accordingly. The special advantages and weaknesses for different platforms should be documented to be able to use every system in the network according to its strongpoints.


1. Collect the most relevant use cases for BLOS communications from military member nations. 2. Identify a combination of proposed physical, link, network and transport layer technologies for the airborne BLOS network to realize the uses cases in 1 based on ongoing or concluded research activities in NATO, EDA and national programmes. 3. Research automatic or autonomous positioning of airborne communication nodes tailored for different scenarios and use cases. 4. Define a list of suitable platforms with advantages and disadvantages with regards to an airborne BLOS network and make proposals to enhance existing platforms to supply BLOS communication. 5. Identify constraints, potential weaknesses and shortcomings in existing approaches, protocols and standards are targeted and improvements proposed. 6. Architecture implications – The introduction of such technologies may have implications on existing solutions. Explorations will include topics such as the implications on IT operations management in a NATO mission context, application development, and the deployment process.

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