Scalable Directional Antenna for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
Navy SBIR FY2018.1


Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2018.1
Topic No.: N181-064
Topic Title: Scalable Directional Antenna for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
Proposal No.: N181-064-0797
Firm: FIRST RF CORPORATION
6150 Lookout Road
Boulder, Colorado 80301
Contact: Ian Rumsey
Phone: (303) 449-5211
Web Site: http://firstrf.com
Abstract: The Navyƒ?Ts mission of global force projection and logistic support requires surface ships and naval aviation assets to be deployed worldwide with little supporting infrastructure for communications. Airborne units provide extended line of sight for network connectivity between surface vessels as well as contributing unique sensor capabilities. The use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as airborne nodes for communications will provide additional capability to ensure uninterrupted connectivity throughout the fleet, but for a variety of naval UAS platforms to easily serve in this role a scalable and affordable airborne phased array antenna is required. FIRST RF has developed an industry-leading phased array architecture that is uniquely suited to address this need. This phased array approach is based on a modular building block that combines the RF, electronic, thermal, and mechanical features of a phased array antenna into a low-cost subassembly. This active antenna module is easily manufactured and tested using standard high volume printed circuit processes. FIRST RF has had dramatic success applying this approach to X-Band for airborne radar and Ku-Band communications. Translating this technology to C-Band promises to yield a cutting-edge phased array solution for the Navy with rapid transition to the fleet.
Benefits: Scalable and affordable phased arrays capable of rapidly steering directional beams have multiple applications both in communications and radar spanning military and commercial applications. Beamsteering antennas such as those required for this topic have historically been heavy, power-hungry, and required bespoke designs for each application. The successful implementation of a modular phased array solution for high performance communications will enable the growing number of UAS to rapidly adopt scalable communications payloads that support advanced networking waveforms. To the warfighter, the increased availability of high bandwidth information will increase situational awareness, and directional antennas offer substantial advantages in jamming resistance / low probability of intercept/ low probability of detection. The proposed phased array technology is also applicable to ground-based on the move communications, and has applications in other ad hoc networking systems.

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