Video Down Link Systems

End-to-end integrated down link systems and upgrades

Turn-Key Solutions

  • Video, Audio, Meta Data Moving Maps
  • Encryption
  • HD or Standard Definition
  • Military Rugged with COTS Pricing
  • Small Business

Sonora Systems provides integrated turnkey video down links for first time airborne surveillance users and we offer performance enhancement upgrades and expansion sets for existing down link systems.  We assist our clients with

  • FAA aircraft installation certification as well as with
  • FCC frequency authorization.

Sonora provides installation support, ground systems integration, test systems, on-line system upgrades, on-sight training and training material.  Our systems feature

  • Standard Definition and High Definition video,
  • AES (Bcrypt) digital encryption and
  • meta data display including imbedded KLV meta data.

While Sonora can provide links based on several modulation schemes, we highly recommend the use of equipment based on open standard DVB-T, COFDM digital technology, the state of the art in commercial and military airborne video systems.  COFDM is a highly efficient modulation technique and the core of the DVB-T transmission standard, an open-source, public standard that ensures interoperability while allowing many manufacturers to drive down cost in a highly competitive market.  Military video down links like Common Data Link (CDL) or Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) are not as robust or flexible as the new commercial DVB-T standard and users continue to suffer with prices set by a single dominant manufacturer.  The DVB-T commercial standard is the basis for most digital television in the world today.  Sonora integrated systems reflect the low component price and high reliability of competitive large volume production as well as the low overhead of a small business.

Major Parts of an Airborne Video Down Link System

Airborne Terminals, which typically include the transmitter, control head and external antenna can also include a receiver for close coordination with other surveillance aircraft.

Portable Hand-Held Receivers  for the tactical mobile user in vehicles, ATV’s, or on foot.  These systems optimize compact, rugged packaging and simplicity while retaining sophisticated encryption and output to peripheral displays or recorders.

Long Range Ground Stations, fixed position receiver systems including high-gain antennas for extended range, a wide variety of interfaces to internet, SATCOM, multiple displays, recorders and peripheral equipment such as voice communication radios.

Receiver Test Kits, provide end-to-end test of receivers and networks with out costly test flights.  These kits support periodic training, setup verification and encryption code verification at remote sites.  Test and verification is a critical factor to guarantee mission success.

Special Features Design & Integration

High Definition down links which support the latest model camera balls are available.  While these systems give up some loss of range in High Def mode, they are switchable to Standard Definition when more robust, long range operation is a high priority.

Encryption is based on the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is available in 128-bit or 256-bit coding as well as the BCRYPT law enforcement encryption standard.  Users in the air and on the ground must insert identical 32 or 64 character key codes for the receivers to decrypt the signal broadcast from the aircraft.  These key codes can be regularly changed by individual users or a specialized security personnel to further guarantee transmission security.

Meta data moving maps as required for Cursor-On-Target display is readily available using  parallel channels in the down link system or KLV encoding in accordance with MISB standards.  Side-by-side presentation provides the context of the video and enhances the ground authorities’ understanding of the larger operational picture.  KLV encoding of the data either in the aircraft or in the ground station is essential for useful video archive and retrieval using time/date or  location data.

Frequency Availability and FCC Authorization can be a difficult process for the 1st time user.  Sonora Systems guides the client through the options which vary by mission and user.  COTS equipment supports all available frequencies including L-band, S-band, C-band and X-Band.

Sonora will test and verify interoperability with all existing equipment regardless of transmission band, including Dragoon Digital Down Link (3DL) systems.


Sonora engineers will provide on-site support during aircraft installation and provide all necessary documentation in accordance with FAA mod certification.

We support integration of the receivers in customer facilities and provide on-site training to use this equipment and the portable hand held receivers.

We are look forward to discussing with you your missions and existing systems and helping you generate budget conscious expansion, improvement or upgrade plans.