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Enabling Peel-and-Stick Conformal Antennas for SUAS



OBJECTIVE: Develop, demonstrate, and test non-permanent, conformal, applique antenna solutions for group 1 and group 2 SUAS. 

DESCRIPTION: Conformal antennas provide an alternative solution to traditional aircraft antennas (blade, etc.) in situations where the C-SWaP requirements are crucial, like small SUAS. This topic seeks to develop and demonstrate the material and processing solutions to provide peel and stick capability for any number of conformal antenna designs which could be implemented on group 1 or group 2 SUAS built from dielectric materials or carbon fiber composite. Special consideration should be given to selecting proper materials for the carbon fiber application, and antennas which utilize materials other than just metals are encouraged. The antenna should be removable and replaceable in the field without damaging the airframe to support multiple ISR payloads and bandwidths, and the technology should pass all relevant MIL-STD environmental, abrasion, adhesion, and thermal standards. Trade-offs between conformal design, bandwidth, and antenna efficiency should be addressed and characterized. 

PHASE I: Identify Rf bands of utility to Group 1 and 2 SUAS amenable to conformal antenna designs and validate with relevant modeling. Consider fabrication method for the antenna element, packaging, connectorization, and potential adhesives for creating peel-and-stick appliques which are robust while minimizing size, weight, and damage upon removal. Ideally, target demos across the 100MHz to 3 GHz range and characterize antenna performance. 

PHASE II: Continue to test and optimize antenna designs and material solutions and characterize antenna performance. To prepare for material qualification onto a relevant SUAS, test for adhesion and sound integration onto existing platforms like Raven, Puma, or equivalent. Demonstrate and test performance and reliability in relevant SUAS operating environments. Explore scale-up methods and down-select. Provide a final report with design changes and improvements. Phase III transition plan must be developed. 

PHASE III: Qualification activities shall be performed. Phase III should include a final demo of the antenna on a representative test article or SUAS. Other activities leading up to a flight test shall be performed. 


1: Volakis, John. Antenna Engineering Handbook, Fourth Edition. US: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2007. Chapters 1, 2, 3, 22, 3 40.

2:  Karmann, W

3:  Gierenz, G. Adhesives and Adhesive Tapes. John Wiley & Sons, 2008

4:  Creton, C. Pressure-Sensitive Adhesives: An Introductory Course. MRS Bull., 28, 434–439, 2003

KEYWORDS: Conformal Antenna, Pressure Sensitive Adhesive (PSA), Rf Connectorization 


Matthew Dalton (AFRL/RXAS) 

(937) 255-8979 

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