GATR inflatable sat antenna

Communications

Army strikes deal for inflatable SATCOM antennas

The Army has awarded a five-year, $440 million contract to GATR Technologies for the company’s lightweight, inflatable satellite antennas, which can packed into a couple cases for quick deployment in the field.

The contract will allow GATR to provide its Wideband Global Satellites (WGS) certified inflatable satellites and related support, services, and hardware to the Army, Marine Corps, and other commands and services, the company announced. The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract was awarded by the Army’s Project Manager Warfighter Information Network Tactical, Product Manager Satellite Communications, Commercial SATCOM Terminal office.

The main advantage of the GATR system is a flexible parabolic dish mounted within an inflatable sphere, which reduces overall weight and volume to improve set-up and disassembly speeds, according to the GATR announcement. The lightweight design reduces transportation expenses and procurement costs, while the larger satellite dish size increases satellite bandwidth efficiency.

The GATR satellite communication system can be assembled in 45 minutes and dismantled in 15 minutes, according to NASA, which funded early development of the technology. Its capabilities include high-bandwidth communication, broadcast television, Voice over IP, and Internet access. The entire system is capable of fitting into two cases and weighs less than 90 pounds.

The system was deployed in the Philippines to support recovery operations after Typhoon Haiyan,  and the antennas were vital in providing high-bandwidth communications when existing communications infrastructure had been destroyed, Defense Update reported.

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