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High data rate communication systems are the backbone for real-time persistent surveillance and raw data transfer and distribution. New, faster, more reliable systems are required to keep pace with emerging sensors and other data-generating technologies. This paper describes the development and testing of an RF communication system designed to offload a significant amount of data from an aircraft to a ground station. The system includes a unique, lightweight prism-based directional antenna system on the aircraft and a modified tracking antenna system as a ground station. State-of-the-art FPGA-based modem designs achieve high data throughput over the RF link. The components of this system architecture are detailed herein, as well as the presentation of system test results and future system recommendations.
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