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Platform Is The Antenna




Develop a conformal printed or applique antenna system to be placed directly on the platform to yield Electro Magnetic (EM) transmit, receive, and absorptive capabilities. If possible, ensure that the antenna system maximally utilize the platform as the conductive medium with appropriate current probes and shunting mechanisms. Design an antenna system that covers the military High Frequency (HF) operational frequencies.


With the recent advances in digital communications, the ability to perform highly complex signal processing has almost become a commodity. However, a ship's limited topside offers little space to host the complementary antennas. In addition to limited topside space, the confluence of apertures severely challenges the ship designer's ability to yield low overall Radar Cross Section (RCS) ship designs.

This SBIR topic focuses on solving both communications and RCS problems by combining novel reduced Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) conformal antenna systems that can perform at or near (within 3 dB) the same level of performance as antennas currently fielded in the High Frequency (HF) (2 MHz to 30 MHz) as a threshold and Very High Frequency (VHF) (30 MHz to 88 MHz) to Ultra High Frequency (UHF) (225 MHz to 3 GHz) as objective bands. Note: It is acceptable to divide the UHF operational frequencies in to two bands: 225 MHz to 512 MHz and 500 MHz to 3 GHz. Further, this antenna system must provide beam forming capabilities in support of new "massive Multiple In and Multiple Out (MIMO)" multi-carrier waveforms in the HF domain. Platform Is The Antenna (PITA) can be the primary (objective) or supplemental (threshold) HF massive MIMO antenna system.

This SBIR topic falls under the NDS Alignment of "Modernize Key Capabilities" and the DDR&E (RT&L) Tech Priority "Networked Command, Control, and Communications (C3)."


Conduct a study to determine the technical feasibility of a conformal and/or applique antenna system that covers the operational frequencies of 2 MHz to 3 GHz. Determine the Effective Radiated Power (ERP) and antenna gain to noise temperature (G/T) necessary to perform at or near the same level of performance (within 3 dB) as antennas currently in the HF to UHF bands.

Describe the technical solution based on the investigations and technical trade-offs.

For the identified solution, develop the SBIR Phase II Project Plan to include a detailed schedule (in Gantt format), spend plan, performance objectives, and transition plan for the identified Program of Records (PoRs).


Develop a set of performance specifications for the PITA system and conduct a System Requirements Review (SRR).

Establish a working relationship with Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific engineers to perform initial integration activities and identification/development of any necessary engineering changes to the current HF, VHF, and UHF systems. Engage with the Program Office in its introduction and collaboration with NIWC Pacific engineers.

Develop the prototype antenna for demonstration and validation in a laboratory environment. The antenna will meet the relevant Environmental Qualification Testing (EQT) and Electromagnetic Environment Effects (E3) testing for shipboard installation (e.g., MIL-STD-810H, MIL-STD-1399, MIL-HDBK-2036, NAVSEA Instruction 9700.2, etc.). Conduct a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the antenna and commence development of an Engineering Development Model (EDM) system. Conduct a Critical Design Review (CDR) prior to building the EDM.

Develop the life-cycle support strategies and concepts for the antenna.

Develop a SBIR Phase III Project Plan to include a detailed schedule (in Gantt format) and spend plan, performance requirements, and revised transition plan for the identified PoRs.


Refine and fully develop the EDM to build upon and produce a Production Representative Article (PRA) of the antenna and integrate with the targeted systems.

Perform Formal Qualification Tests (FQT) (e.g., field testing, operational assessments, ship-to-ship testing) of the antenna with a ship or an equivalent representation.

Provide life-cycle support strategies and concepts for PITA by developing a Life-Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP).

Investigate the dual use of the developed technologies for commercial applications such as in the automotive industry. A conformal antenna, printed or applied, on a vehicle (e.g., bumper) could be used for vehicular communications, allowing for vehicles to become communicating nodes that can provide information (e.g., safety warnings, traffic information) between vehicles, which can be effective in avoiding accidents and traffic congestion. Other applications of this technology include on trains as an antenna and/or communications relay; cellular base station antennas conformed to various existing surfaces; commercial aircraft antenna system whereby the aircraft is the antenna; and commercial ship antennas where the developed conformal antennas could be directly utilized in the same manner as suggested in this topic.

KEYWORDS: DMR; Digital Modular Radio; Battle Force Tactical Network; BFTN; BFTN Resilient Command and Control System Enhancements; BRSE; Tactical Communications; TACCOM; Antenna; 3D Printing; Additive Manufacturing; Subtractive Manufacturing; Current Probes; current Clamps; HF; High Frequency; VHF; Very High Frequency; UHF; Ultra High Frequency


1. Law, Preston E. Jr. "Shipboard Antennas." Artech House Antenna Library, August 1, 1986, ISBN-13: 978-0890062111 or ISBN-10: 0890062110.

2. "Conformal Antennas." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, May 10, 2020.

3. MAST Clamp Current Probe (MCCP),

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