Conformal Antenna Technology for Improved Signal Intelligence (SIGINT)
ABSTRACT: As the need for new airborne RF sensing capability grows, Air Force warfighters are increasingly interested in employing conformal antennas to their aircraft. Because conformal antennas minimize the impact to the flight performance of aircraft, they offer the possibility to install a greater number of antennas, or larger antennas, than conventional airborne antennas, which in turn enables increased sensor performance (e.g. bandwidth, gain, etc.). In order to enable tactical SIGINT exploitation of traditional and non-traditional signals of interest (NTSOI) on existing aircraft in a practical manner, FIRST RF proposes a suite of antennas designed to provide broadband coverage while simultaneously maintaining a conformal form-factor. The proposed approach leverages conformal antenna technologies already successfully demonstrated for a variety of applications, including broadband synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and body-worn direction finding (DF), to provide exceptional broadband RF performance. These proven antenna technologies use broadband loading techniques as well as novel materials currently under development by FIRST RF to deliver a conformal package requiring minimal aircraft modification during installation on existing aircraft. Combining these proven technologies with low-cost and lightweight surface treatments provides a low-risk path to realizing program goals, with long-term potential for reuse of antennas for multifunction applications, including transmit functions. BENEFIT: Although FIRST RF"s proposed approach focuses on antennas suited for low-profile receive-only applications like SIGINT, these antennas also have the potential to provide support of more comprehensive receive functions (like direction finding and geolocation). These technologies also begin to enable a path towards the support of a variety of transmit functions, including communications, radar, and even electronic warfare. With these potential benefits, the applicability of this technology extends beyond the scope of conformal airborne antennas, and has other military applications, including ground vehicles, fixed-site installations, and even dismounted personnel. Furthermore, these capabilities have direct relevance to a variety of commercial applications, including commercial wireless networks and even consumer electronics. First and foremost, FIRST RF looks forward to working with Air Force to explore the applicability of this technology to the near-term need for conformal airborne RF sensors.
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FIRST RF CORPORATION
5340 Airport Blvd. Boulder, CO -
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