ARDS - Aerial Reconnaissance Data System

ARDS, the Aerial Reconnaissance Data System, is a system for the broadband radio transmission of reconnaissance image data, allowing complex flows of data to be transmitted error-free from manned or unmanned airborne vehicles to the ground station.

Aerial reconnaissance systems are increasingly growing in importance. In addition to round-the-clock availability in all weather conditions, high resolution and long distances are being sought. Modern sensor technology uses different spectral ranges and, looking forward into the future, these will be combined in multi-sensor systems. The resultant volume of data must be processed and stored on board and transmitted free of any disruptions to the ground station. Future national and European programs already include these requirements in their operational specifications.

BüLAND (a German acronym standing for "Broadband transmission of aerial reconnaissance data") is a demonstration program funded under the German Federal Research and Technology Program. It incorporates the main functions of an aerial reconnaissance transmission system.

Using BüLAND together with solid core skills in this segment, the OHB Group has decided to step up technological development by implementing ARDS.

The main characteristic underlying ARDS is the modular structure allowing system components to be supplied either as individual function groups or in the form of an all-in solution.

Main characteristics

Suitable for different sensors and platforms

  • High resolution sensors as well as
  • Multi-sensor applications

On-Board data compression and storage

Data multiplex

  • Bytestream interface
  • Gigabit Ethernet interface

Baseband components

  • High data transmission rate
  • Realization as Software Defined Radio (SDR)
  • Robust QPSK-modulation
  • COFDM for scenarios with multipath propagation

RF components

  • Frequency in Ku band (adaptable to customer requirements)
  • Coverage depending on antenna system utilized

Modular realization, this permits the separate use of single sub-systems


Work on adding real-time wide-range reconnaissance capabilities to the ARDS system is ongoing.

The ARDS ground test system and the flight system were delivered to EADS in 2008 for the Agile UAV and are integrated within the Barracuda UAV.


German Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement BWB (customer), EADS-MAS (now Cassidian)

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ARDS - System for Wideband Transmission of Reconnaissance Data