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Phased Array SATCOM System for Group 2 UAS (Tactical BLOS)

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, 

OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate a Phased Array SATCOM System for Group 2 UAS and Dismounts. 

DESCRIPTION: The Army’s FTUAS program is bringing rapid innovation and new capabilities to the US Army’s combat brigades. The FTUAS program is reducing the size of drones at the same time as bringing increased capabilities. An increasingly difficult problem is the ability to stay connected to the network while conducting missions that last 8 hours or more. System agile satellite communications (the ability to use GEO, MEO, or LEO systems) will greatly enhance the military utility of the Army’s FTUAS. The Phased Array technology must be cost effective in order to equip the FTUAS in quantity and must be compatible with the next generation tactical terminals. The system should be capable of supporting multi-megabit per second connections to different satellite system in different types of orbit. The system should have the ability to do make before break to ensure no dropouts when transitioning from one satellite to another. This capability when complete will support added resiliency for Army and Multi-Domain Battle (MDB) mission threads in a contested environment. Once complete, this capability could be scaled for use in other Army systems. In addition to the DoD environment, this proposal has potential for commercialization. As we move towards an “Internet of Things” approach where IP addressing is frequently used and wireless technology is used to send system status or update information, this could provide a much needed, smaller form factor satellite connection. Another potential commercial application would be in the proliferating unmanned vehicle market in the commercial sector. 

PHASE I: Identify the key component technologies required to support the performance and cost goals for the phased array system. Model the system to show how RF performance will be achieved within the Size Weight and Power (SWAP) constraints of FTUAS. The weight should be less than 8lbs and the power should be less than 200 watts. The size should be compatible with future FTUAS platforms. The analysis should show basic performance parameters associated with SATCOM links to include at a minimum frequency bands supported, EIRP and G/T. The initial analysis should demonstrate the cost to produce the system within the FTUAS SWAP constraints and the feasibility of meeting requirements in Mil-Std-188-164B. 

PHASE II: Design and develop a system agile phased array satellite communications prototype unit to show the feasibility of providing SATCOM for FTUAS. Test and demonstrate key technologies to support an initial capability and identify areas requiring additional research and development to support the SWAP constrained capability. Demonstrate as many performance parameters as feasible and identify growth path to full performance with the FTUAS swap. Identify key risk areas where performance, SWAP coupled with minimum performance of real time video over SATCOM is the primary concern. 

PHASE III: Deliver working units to the FTUAS program for integration and test. Obtain Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) certification to work on military satellite systems. Obtain commercial certification for use on commercial satellite networks. This will pave the way for use on commercial satellite communications systems. 

REFERENCES: 

1: DISA (https://www.disa.mil/)

KEYWORDS: Satellite Communications (SATCOM), Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Geosynchronous Orbit, Medium Earth Orbit, Low Earth Orbit 

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