Extended MAGTF Operations Aerial Layer Communications Experimentation
Gibson, John H.
Lai, Jin Wei (Ian)
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USMC doctrine embodies the concept of combined arms: the integration of air and ground combat capability to achieve maximum effect on the battlefield. The expeditionary nature of the USMC requires tight integration of its combat capabilities and effects, to include during transit of forces to the objective area. However, with the extended range offered by the MV-22 Osprey over that of rotary wing insertion aircraft the distance over which MAGTF forces may be inserted under the cover of a single period of darkness places an extreme burden on communications required to maintain effective command and control (C2) over those forces, particularly in satellite-access denied environments. This research effort extends previous thesis work regarding the use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) radios in combination with small unmanned aerial systems, such as positive-controlled, untethered high-altitude balloon based platforms. In particular, two separate thesis efforts were executed exploring different aspects of this issue: the use of free space optics to provide extremely high bandwidth communications in radio frequency stressed environments and the efficacy of low-data- rate high-altitude balloon relay for support to distributed, dismounted, small-team combat elements.