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Dual-band low-profile antennas for intra-flight communication and data links


OBJECTIVE: Develop low-profile antennas capable of Low Probability of Intercept and Low Probability of Detection (LPI/LPD), tactical data link communication between manned aircraft, unmanned aircraft, and smart weapons. DESCRIPTION: High speed communication channels and tactical data links are becoming increasingly important for both military and commercial applications. The need for high speed inter-flight communication and data transfer is validated by the existence of the Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) for the F-22 and the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) for the F-35. Antennas for these two links are unique, and the two links are not interoperable. In fact, separate antennas are used on the F-22 and the F-35 for these two links. This solicitation requests the design, construction, and delivery of low-profile apertures for simultaneous operation on multiple link bands for use in airborne environments. Possible solutions could include the use of dual-band or broadband antenna for a low profile, conformal mounting arrangement. The target frequencies should be K band and above. The antennas should demonstrate LPI/LPD operation. The antennas should attempt to provide 1 GHz of instantaneous bandwidth. The antennas should demonstrate operation in more than one area of the band, either tunable or simultaneous operation. PHASE I: Design a low profile, antenna array that covers at least two communication frequency bands according to requirements & quantify its expected performance. Design must: Demonstrate dual-band operation in a low profile form factor when mounted on a large conductive surface. Provide a trade-off analysis of critical performance characteristics (gain, field-of-view (FOV) bandwidth, impedance, etc.). PHASE II: Construct, demonstrate, test, and deliver dual-band low profile antenna arrays based on the designs proposed in Phase I. The prototype must include operation at the two communication and/or data link frequency bands referenced. The prototype"s salient performance parameters (e.g. gain, FOV, bandwidth, input impedance, etc.) must be measured, compared with model predictions, and reported. PHASE III: Develop conformal dual-band antenna arrays for airborne use. The antenna arrays must be able to demonstrate operation in at least the two communication and/or data link frequency bands referenced. REFERENCES: 1. W. Stutzman and G.Thiele, Antenna Theory and Design, J. Wiley & Sons, 1981. 2 N. Amitay, V. Galindo, and C. Wu, Theory and Analysis of Phased Array Antennas, J. Wiley & Sons, 1972.
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