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Composite/Meta-Materials for Multi-band Satellite Antenna Applications

Description:

 
 

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, Information Systems

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Commercial Broadband Antenna Program, ACAT III

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop a prototype radome and multi-band (at least C and Ka bands) antenna system that features an ideal mix of traditional metallic and composite materials as well as candidate advanced composites and meta-materials to allow placement on aircraft carrier mast or superstructures and protection/relocation from jet blast.

DESCRIPTION: Due to the large size (3.53 m diameter) and weight (818 kg) of C-band satellite antennas, the placement of these on aircraft carriers are limited to a very few locations excluding the mast on the superstructure. Accordingly, these antennas must be placed at a low enough point to reduce the center of gravity on the structure. Currently, antenna placement results in a sub-optimal location that is subject to significant blockage from the superstructure. Current approach to overcome this problem is the employment of a dual antenna array (fore and aft) along with complex electronic switching systems, dual sets of waveguides, and specialized satellite modems. Additionally, a new problem has been introduced on board aircraft carriers with the recent introduction of the Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircrafts such as Harrier and F-35C Joint Strike Fighter. The jet blast resulting from take-off and landing of these VTOL aircrafts have resulted in the destruction of radomes as well as the antennas they protect from the environment. These radomes and antennas were anticipated to have a long service life; however, the sparse set of spares are being depleted at a rapid rate. This is an untenable situation that requires an alternate means to solve this problem.

Efforts to address this problem should be focused on the areas of:

 

(1) Identify or develop methods for using advanced composite and/or meta-materials to yield significantly lighter antennas, gimbal mechanisms, and pedestals with equal or greater performance,

 

(2) Identify or develop advanced composite and/or meta-materials that will result in the ability to yield multi-band reflector arrays (i.e. advanced composites and meta-materials that selectively responds to multiple simultaneous set of wideband and narrowband satellite signals), and

 

(3) Using the knowledge gained and materials identified/developed under areas (1) and (2) to reduce large satellite antenna count and to allow mounting the lighter multi-band antennas on the aircraft carrier's mast or upper superstructure so they are not subject to blockage or jet blast from VTOL aircraft.

PHASE I: Determine the symbiotic relationship between the reduction of antenna weight to the corollary reduction in size and weight of the gimbal mechanism and pedestal. Identify the optimal trade-off for the use of some combination of traditional metallic structures, composites, advanced composites, and meta-materials that yields maximum service life at the best cost point. Determine the feasibility of developing a multi-band antenna that can replace at least two discreet satellite antennas. Study the use of advanced composites and meta-materials that selectively responds to multiple simultaneous sets of wideband and narrowband satellite signals.

Determine alternate locations for the innovative new antenna on the aircraft carrier's mast or upper superstructure. Also determine the effects on the radome from VTOL jet blast on the candidate antenna placement location.

PHASE II: Develop a prototype radome and multi-band (at least C and Ka bands) antenna system that features an ideal mix of traditional metallic and composite materials as well as candidate advanced composites and meta-materials. Characterize the performance against current Force Level Variant (FLV) FLV Commercial Broadband Satellite Program Antenna system, AN/USC-69(V)2. Produce complete radome and antenna model with electronics assemblies represented by appropriately placed non-functioning mass that can be tested at China Lake's shock, vibration, and environmental stress test facility to Navy Multiband Terminal (NMT) specifications. Determine survivability of the new multi-band antenna system's ability to survive the potential VTOL jet blast at the revised antenna location.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Produce production representative prototype for testing on aircraft carriers, increase Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), and, potentially, perform limited fielding of the antenna systems. Private Sector Commercial Potential: Commercial satellite programs such as O3b Networks used on commercial cruise liners can benefit from the reduction of antenna arrays required on ship.

REFERENCES:

  • Joint Strike Fighter: http://www.jsf.mil/
  • Gimbal mount complexity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimbal
  • Dual shell gridded satellite antenna reflectors: http://vst-inc.com/satellite-components/antenna-reflectors/dual-shell-gridded-reflectors/
  • PMW/A 170 Communications Program Office SATCOM program overview: http://www.public.navy.mil/spawar/Press/Documents/Publications/1.25.12_AFCEA_Kit_IX.pdf

KEYWORDS: JSF, gimbal, commercial SATCOM, MILSATCOM, multi-band antennas, meta-materials, advanced composites

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