November 2, 2011

Chinese JTAC vs. ROVER

News Report

A curious entry appeared on DefenseTech, reporting that a chinese military website is showing a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) that appears as a Chinese version of the NATO ROVER targeting system.

"Who knows how well the Chinese system works or how good China is at close air support. Still, its just another sign that the U.S. military doesn’t have a lock down on the advanced ISR and comms gear that is fast becoming the hallmark of 21st century weapons technology"

The System (ROVER)

ROVER is the L-3's Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver, which receives camera images from nearby aircraft and UAVs, then integrates them with other positioning and targeting software. The initial ROVER system, ROVER I, was developed in 2002 to allow ground forces to view video feeds from Predator UAVs or AC-130 gunships. The interface was so large it was carried in a HMMWV, but it avoided the long delay of having to call a distant UAV controller and ask what the aircraft was seeing.

ROVER is currently available in different configurations:
  • ROVER 4 is a laptop-based receiver terminal. It supports Ku-band digital, C-band digital, C-band analog, S-band analog and L-band analog signals.
  • ROVER 5 and 5i (aka mROVER) are handheld computers and software-defined radios that can also transmit target data, support encryption up to Type 1, and have some compatibility with key datalink protocols like CDL. It is publicly stated to work with Predator, Shadow and Dragon Eye UAVs, and Northrop Grumman’s LITENING surveillance and targeting pod.
  • ROVER 6 can be mounted in a vehicle or carried. It adds Raven and emerging CDL waveforms to increase its interoperability with some aircraft, and virtually all UAVs and targeting pods. ROVER 6 is able to receive in 2 different channels, in 1-2 different frequency bands, from a single data source to improve redundancy and reception. 

References: DefenseTech (1), TP.chinamil (2), DefenseIndustryDaily (3), L-3 (4)

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