ViaSat records successful test of Ka-band satcom on H-3

ViaSat has successfully demonstrated a high-performance Ka-band satellite communication system that delivers beyond line-of-sight broadband for rotary wing aircraft, the company said March 5.

The advanced system provided sustained data rates of 4 Megabits per second from the helicopter to a ground station and 8 Mbps to the helicopter despite high shock and vibration and the inherent repetitive signal blockage from rotating blades, the company said.

While previous “through the blade” demonstrations have proved the underlying patented and patent-pending technology, this flight test at Patuxent River, Md., used a Sikorsky H-3 helicopter.

Flight conditions encompassed rigorous maneuvers, such as severe banking and operation through several rotor orientations, while running data-intensive applications, the company said. During multiple tests, operators were able to simultaneously run five voice-over-IP calls, conduct three video teleconferences from air to ground, and stream videos from the Internet to the aircraft. All applications ran without packet loss or video dropout.

The new system builds on ViaSat mobile Ku- and Ka-technologies using a modified waveform optimized for efficient through-the-blade broadband communications, the company said. The system can be used on manned and unmanned rotary wing platforms and provides communications regardless of the number of blades, blade size, number of rotors or their orientation on the airframe.

A patent-pending shock and vibration isolation system enables the antenna to maintain lock with the satellite on the ground and in-flight, the company said.

The antenna used in the flight test was the new ViaSat VR-12 Ka antenna, which is a form and fit alternative to the VR-12 Ku-band antenna. The VR-12 Ku has achieved milestones of 500 deliveries and more than 500,000 mission hours. 

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