UK Home Office Airborne Data Link Migration Project
November 27, 2019

Vislink provide a secure, interoperable, solution utilising the latest technology for the transmission of high quality video from aircraft to operational commanders on the ground.

Customer Needs/Objectives

The aim of the Airborne Data Link (ADL) Migration Project was to create a single, common national airborne video downlink service, to replace the disparate regional systems, allowing for total interoperability (‘borderless tasking’) throughout the National Police Air Service. It would necessitate providing new equipment not only for the aircraft transmission, but also for receiving at fixed ground sites and by mobile equipment.

The Home Office requirements for the new service were for a digital downlink system transmitting high quality, full motion Standard Definition (SD) video with optional encryption, plus associated audio and ancillary data.

The headline objectives for the project were as follows:

  • Replace all existing analogue equipment with digital hardware operating in accordance with the agreed broadcast channel frequencies
  • Retune all existing digital equipment in use with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)
  • Implement a common interoperable encryption standard to Home Office specification

Vislink Solution

Vislink’s experienced and knowledgeable team of public safety and security experts installed fifteen aircraft with new integrated video datalink systems. The upgraded equipment was capable of transmitting live images from airborne assets to multiple receive sites, and our innovative solutions enabled the sharing of crystal-clear images, providing UK Police with live pictures of exactly what’s happening on the ground.

There were three individual contracts:

  • ADL Retune – MPS
  • ADL Migration – UK Regional Police forces
  • ADL Migration – UK Border Force (UKBF)

Fifteen helicopters, one fixed wing aircraft, five UKBF cutters and over fifty ground based receive sites were upgraded from analogue to digital. In total, more than two hundred items of mobile, portable and fixed equipment were delivered against the three contracts.

During joint operations, regional forces and national agencies can now access ADL images transmitted from aircraft using portable and handheld equipment, and also at regional command and control centres throughout the UK.

Benefits Impact and Results

The UK-wide rollout delivered significant improvements in range and video quality, giving operational commanders at all levels the confidence to use the technology to support policing operations.

The increased situational awareness delivered by the Vislink solution has provided the means for faster and more accurate decision making.

Customer quotes

“Since Surrey’s switch to ADL we have garnered the following benefits:

  • Increased reception range (95% cover per site)
  • Increased picture stability (vast improvement)
  • No analogue fading
  • No interference
  • Portable receivers are ‘portable’
  • Construction of receivers seems very light but robust and very functional

General operational readiness benefits include all of the above. Additionally:

  • Remote channel change capability
  • Basic remote signal to noise monitoring”

Scott Swift, Surrey Police

“This has been a happy experience for North Yorkshire Police. As one of the few forces without a comprehensive video down link capability we were keen to grasp this opportunity and accept the technology.

The capability exceeds our expectations. Some outline work was done here scoping the use of further masts so as to maximise the coverage across the county. To our delight this has proved unnecessary as the capability reaches much further than we hoped allowing us to receive pictures almost to the eastern coast and beyond our border in the south.

In terms of operational use, the Force has had a series of high profile events since going live and the service has been put through its paces with highly favourable feedback. This capability is welcomed and proving to be a very useful asset.”

Claire Craven Griffiths, North Yorkshire Police