Working in partnership with Cobham, and conducted at MOD Boscombe Down, QinetiQ has delivered a world first in the successful test, integration and assurance of software and hardware for the new 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) Aircraft Communications System (ACS) that will transform the connectivity and effectiveness of the UK’s Emergency Services Air to Ground communications and eventually replace the current TETRA radio system.

The brief

The ACS is a key component of the UK Home Office’s Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP). ESMCP will deliver the Emergency Services Network (ESN), using an innovative solution and world first by providing LTE based fully integrated, mission critical voice and broadband data services for future Emergency Services communications.

Our solution

Provision of an Air to Ground Technical Demonstrator Programme system which comprises of a bespoke aircraft antenna array, a specialist airborne 4G LTE Communications device and a dedicated ground test cellular network. Initial tests were completed using an Agusta A109, and further testing and assurance will continue over the next 12-15 months. Despite the impact of COVID, the system complexities, stringent safety and airworthiness specifications, the successful trial was underway in less than nine months after Cobham and QinetiQ were awarded the contract for this part of the ESMCP programme.

Outcomes and benefits

QinetiQ was able to demonstrate to a team from the Home Office and emergency services a variety of technical demonstrations covering the integration of the Mission Critical Press-to-Talk Kodiak application, laboratory test rigs and tours of the Ground Test Network. This was followed by a demonstration of the prototype ACS technology fitted to a QinetiQ Agusta A109 helicopter, some technical presentations and workshops with the team from the Home Office and our partners Cobham. During this demonstration the Home Office team highlighted the great working relationship between QinetiQ and Cobham and the excellent test results achieved.

Together with Cobham, QinetiQ have achieved significant progress in a short amount of time to develop and assure a system that will truly transform the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency responses involving both air and ground personnel.