Airborne radio repeater for over the horizon network connection to autonomous boat

I am developing an autonomous boat to conduct offshore sonar survey in the Gulf of Mexico. The boat will be operated up to 30 miles from the coast. I need a way to establish a temporary network connection to the drone for emergency system control and maintenance during the offshore portions of its missions.

It is not feasible to build antenna masts tall enough to communicate at these distances.

Is it possible to use a small quadcopter as a network bridge/repeater by flying at high altitude above the ground control station with 900 MHz network hardware?

The connection needs to support serial data via udp, SSH, and Windows Remote Desktop connectivity. …Basically just an extended office WiFi network.


This type of configuration has been successfully used on the OutBack Challenge.
You can read more on this excellent debrief from @tridge here:

Interesting. From the write up, it looks like the radios they used can only transmit serial data via uart interfaces on either end. Is there similar hardware that can also relay other types of network traffic? Udp, tcp, rdp, etc?