Navy seeks lightweight, jam resistant antennae
- By Katherine Owens
- Aug 14, 2017
With weapons and communications systems increasingly relying on connectivity and signal communications, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is looking to develop phased array antennas that are light-weight and jam resistant for the next generation of systems.
The NRL is working with the Tactical Reachback Extended Communications to develop an ultra-wideband phased array antenna with extended line-of-sight (LOS) communications capabilities. LOS technology is able to support wide bandwidth frequency transmissions, which are often capable of avoiding any jamming or interference attempts.
According to the Air Force, the “phase” in phased array refers to the timed cycling between incoming and outgoing signals. The ability to have different signal cycles in different phases allows the antenna to perform multiple radar signal functions at once. Likewise, the NRL is looking for the antenna to be capable of multi-mission operations.
Wideband transmission allows higher bandwidth frequencies, which enable faster communication. It also provides room for the transmitting signal to be dispersed across the wideband spectrum, which enables a form of encryption and makes it harder to detect, and thus harder to jam.
The prototype that the NRL has developed includes an arrayed surface about the size of a human hand. According to the NRL, the small size and weight of the antenna is a key goal of the project because it both lessens costs and the electronic signature of the weapons system it integrated with.
“There has been a push to … provide the more anti-jam capability to advanced users [such as] Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), comms-on-the-move, manpacks and people on the front lines so that they don’t have a risk of compromising those strategic keys,” explained an industry spokesperson.
A small, lightweight antenna that is also jam resistant is a key component of efforts to increase the mobility and security of weapons and communications systems, reports the NRL.
When the new lightweight, ultra-wideband antenna becomes operable, it will also provide stability for low-altitude tracking, reported the NRL. As yet, the proposed technology has not been restricted to any particular area of the fleet.