Air-Ground Channel Characterization for Unmanned Aircraft Systems—Part II: Hilly & Mountainous Settings

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The use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is expanding rapidly. For safe and reliable integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS), control and nonpayload communication (CNPC) system requirements are being developed. The air-to-ground (AG) channel characteristics essentially determine CNPC link performance. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center has sponsored a comprehensive AG channel measurement campaign in 2013 in both the L- and C-bands recently allocated for UAS. These measurements covered nearly all typical ground site (GS) local environments, including over water, hilly, mountainous, suburb, and near urban. As a continuation of results reported for the over-water scenarios, a description of the measurement campaign, measured results, and complete AG channel models for hilly and mountainous terrains are provided in this paper. The path loss is modeled by a modified log-distance path loss model with a correction for flight direction; path loss results are close to those of free space. A strong ground reflection was observed only for some small portions of some of the flight paths. The small-scale fading is well modeled by the Ricean distribution with a K-factor of 29.4 dB in the C-band and 12.8 dB in the L-band. The interband signals are uncorrelated. The spatial correlation for the two intraband channels with an aircraft antenna separation of 1.8 m is greater than 0.85. The C-band root-mean-square delay spread (RMS-DS) is 10 ns most of the time, with a maximum of 1 μs in hilly terrain and 180 ns in mountainous terrain. Tapped delay line (TDL) models accounting for the line of sight (LOS) and up to seven intermittent multipath components (MPCs) were developed, including the MPCs’ probability of occurrence, relative power, phase, duration, and excess delay