RTTS & Data Link Equipment

Royal Air Force Transportable Telecommunications System (RTTS)

Harrier Force RTTS Alt CAOC

The RAF Transportable Telecommunications System was a communications system developed to provide the Harrier Force with communications between detachments in the field and UK agencies.  It used ruggedised Commercial-off-the-Shelf equipment. The architecture of the system was built around standards-based interfaces between sub-systems.  This meant that any changes to the system to provide new services, enhance equipment or replace obsolete equipment could be made without disrupting the overall system. The system provides self-contained telephony, telegraphy, and facsimile services. It also provides semi permanent and dial-up circuit and packet mode data services. Rear links provide connectivity to the system and from there to the Public Switched Telephone Network, Defence Fixed Telecommunications System and other theatre communications and information systems.  The system came into service in 1994 for use with the Tactical Communications Wing supporting the RAF Harrier Force, its primary user. 

Ten system nodes were initially delivered:

  • 4 Satellite Access Nodes
  • 6 Remote Communications Cabins.  

The system fleet supported the Harrier Force for the defence of Northwest Europe during the Cold War and was deployed on many exercises throughout Northwest Europe, Far East and Cyprus. The system supported its first true operation in 1996, when the Air Base in Dhahran was attacked by terrorists who hit the Khobar Towers accommodation complex, forcing the move of the Air Base to Prince Sultan’s Air Base at Al Kharj.  

Tactical Communications Wing received their second tranche of RAF Transportable Telecommunications System in 1997, 6 Satellite Access Nodes and 6 Remote Communications Cabins.  These assets were in constant use, providing the network infrastructure to enable Air Power whenever and wherever it was required.  The system has supported every major RAF deployment since its delivery to the Tactical Communications Wing.  In January 2006, the largest ever, fully meshed operational deployment of 6 nodes was commissioned to support Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan until 2008 when it was decommissioned.  90 Signals Unit is currently deploying and maintaining the FALCON communications system, which will be replaced by OPNET.  

Data Links and networks

Link 11 & Clansman HF radio
HF Data Cabin and Piccolo modems

Military Data Links provide a method to transfer situational awareness and critical information exchange in all combat environments.


A tactical data link (TDL) uses a data link standard to provide communications via Satellite, Radio waves or cable and is used by NATO nations. All military C3 systems use standardized TDL to transmit, relay and receive tactical data between command, platform or individual.


Multi-TDL network (MTN) refers to the network of similar and dissimilar TDLs integrated through gateways, translators, and correlators to bring the common tactical picture and/or common operational picture together.


Knowing exactly what’s happening during an operation is crucial for any commander or deployed force, it means they can make timely and accurate decisions. Decisions that can make the difference between life and death.


Therefore, the ability to share information securely is critical.  Issuing commands electronically to the frontline, reduces the workload of pilots, sailors and troops and ensures the accuracy of the details.


Data links come in many forms, including AFAPD, Link 16, IDM, Link 22, JREAP, SADL, Link 11 and VMF. In addition, TCW through the infrastructure it can deploy, has provided services such as ASMA, AMPA, OpCon, SIPRNet and Blue Force Tracker.   


RTTS Node and Panther Equipment
RDV CP deployment
C2 CP and Blue Force Tracker


C17 Off Loads a Falcon Node
BAE Falcon Fly Away Deployment

Falcon is a fully deployable, tactical military communications system that provides users the capability to interface seamlessly with a wide range of other systems. This capability means that voice, data and video information can be shared securely across all elements of the battlespace through the use of one common platform.

Falcon provides a robust, deployable, secure network communication capability, currently deployed  with the British Army and Royal Air Force. It supports a variety of infrastructure from large deployed Headquarters through to smaller more remote operating bases.
Falcon is easily transportable with vehicle and palletised options, and supports the requirement to operate effectively with coalition partners, and has the ability to integrate with both  military and commercial communication systems. It is a key element of the networked battlefield, allowing high capacity voice, data and video communications over a common wide area network.


Data Equipment