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Lens Antennas for Resilient Satellite Communications (SATCOM) on Ground Tactical Vehicles

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Information Systems

OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate a vehicular mounted, On the Move (OTM) lens antenna capable of satellite communications with Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) constellations simultaneously.

DESCRIPTION: The Army must leverage emerging LEO and MEO satellite service for tactical communication to remain competitive with foreign adversaries.The Army intends to integrate this capability into the existing Army GEO SATCOM terminals, to provide resilient transport links for multiple networks simultaneously. As the technology development organization for the U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC), the Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center, provides research, development and engineering support for Army satellite communications.In this role, STCD is seeking to partner with a small business to develop a new satellite antenna capability of supporting communications diversity on the battlefield. The focus is on providing an affordable technology that has the potential to meet performance requirements to close multiple simultaneous connections to geosynchronous and other Wideband SATCOM systems, typically at X, Ku, and Ka bands. The antenna technology is required to meet Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) requirements for integration on a ground tactical vehicle. The antenna technology will be required to support tracking for LEO, MEO and GEO satellites. The antenna must present an innovative path forward for cost reduction that will contribute to an affordable resilient next generation tactical terminal with multi-beam capability.The multi-beam antenna technology should be capable of supporting multi-megabit per second connections to multiple satellites simultaneously in different types of orbit, and be easily deployed. The technology is meant to be deployed on a ground tactical vehicle and should use commercial processes to drive affordability.This capability when complete will support added resiliency for the U.S. Army and Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) mission threads in a contested environment which aligns directly with Army Modernization Priorities, Long Range Precision Fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicle and Army Network. Historically, parabolic dish antennas have been the chosen architecture for Tactical SATCOM systems.These systems make up the majority of the Army’s tactical vehicle inventory.Parabolic dish antennas offer a low cost solution, with antenna performance that meets military requirements for Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP), Receive Gain / Temperature (G/T), and SWaP.However, these systems are limited in providing multi-beam and multi-band solutions necessary for an integrated LEO, MEO, GEO SATCOM capability. A second type of antenna, heavily used for Military SATCOM are phased arrays.These antennas offer multi-beam and multi-band solutions, but are often challenged with the total cost and field-of-regard (i.e. performance at low elevation angles) which is critical for performance on tactical vehicles.A new generation of Army tactical terminals is necessary to meet existing military performance requirements and provide a multi-beam, multi-band SATCOM capable solution, with the broad field-of-regard critical for Army tactical vehicles, at a cost the Army can afford. Lens antennas offer a host of new architectures, from which to build a multi-band, multi-beam terminal.Lenses, similar to dishes, passively focus Electro Magnetic (EM) waves which greatly reduces antenna cost.Further, lens technology offers 3-dimensional way to collect electromagnetic waves, and therefore provide the field-of-regard critical for Army tactical vehicles.

PHASE I: Develop an initial design of a SATCOM lens antenna and terminal, meeting the Government performance requirements for Tactical SATCOM OTM (available from Government TPOC, upon request).The initial design should evaluate the full SATCOM terminal system, and utilize modeling and simulation to support the design.

PHASE II: Develop functional prototype SATCOM lens antenna and terminal. Demonstrate SATCOM connectivity over LEO, MEO, and GEO satellites, in a laboratory setting.

PHASE III: Package the potential solution for a field based test. Demonstrate SATCOM connectivity over LEO, MEO, and GEO satellites, in a field environment. Engage commercial partners to use the product in this field test alongside military operation.

KEYWORDS: Communications, Printable nanocomposite inks, lens, Wideband SATCOM, Additive manufacturing, antennas

References:

“Millimeter Wave Luneburg Lens Antenna Fabricated by Polymer Jetting Rapid Prototyping”, Min Liang Et All, IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, Vol. 62, #4, April 2014.; “Supercritical Fluids for Nanotechnology”. Tadafumi Adschiri, Akira Yoko; The Journal of Supercritical Fluids 134 (2018) 167–175.; J. Qiu, W. Li, and Y. Suo, “A Novel High Gain Beam Scanning Hemispherical Dielectric Lens Antenna,” ITS Telecommunications Proceedings, 6th International Conf., pp. 419-421, 2006.; J. Qiu, W. Li, and Y. Suo, “A Novel High Gain Beam Scanning Hemispherical Dielectric Lens Antenna,” ITS Telecommunications Proceedings, 6th International Conf., pp. 419-421, 2006.

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