RF and microwave communication antennas
ARLINGTON, VA. – US military researchers urge L3Harris Technologies to provide remote communication via mosaic antennas made up of spatially distributed transceiver elements or tiles of small size, light weight, low power and low cost (SWaP-C).
Officials at the U.S. Agency for Advanced Defense Research Projects (DARPA) in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday announced a $ 22.6 million contract to the L-3Harris Communication Systems-West segment in Salt Lake City for the first phase of Resilient Networked Distributed Mosaic Communications (RN DMC).
The RN DMC program tries to replace high-power amplifiers and large directional antennas with mosaics of spatially distributed tile transceivers.
The communication transmission power should be spatially distributed over the tiles, while the system should achieve amplification through signal processing instead of using a physical antenna aperture to concentrate energy.
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Individual tiles could use radio frequency (RF) sound to estimate channel responses and adjust transmit carrier phases to allow the distributed mosaic antenna to form directional beams and spatial nulls in desired directions.
The signal processing in the SWaP-optimized tiles enables these antennas to form directional beams that enhance signals and reject RF and microwave interference, as well as hostile interference.
The tiles can be on ground vehicles, infantry, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), high altitude aircraft, or low-earth orbit satellites.
DARPA researchers say the mosaic approach would work with unchanged military tactical radios and waveforms and would be affordable enough to be dispensable. It can also be secure and only available to authorized users.
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Since the spatial distribution allows a relatively low power from each tile, the probability of detection is inherently low compared to conventional transmitters. In addition, the approach enables the relative position of each tile within a mosaic to be calculated. Because there are multiple tiles forming themselves into an array, losing individual tiles does not cause the entire array to fail.
In a traditional tactical communication system, a radio is connected to a directional antenna using a physical cable or RF coupler. RN DMC, on the other hand, provides a link layer for physical communication that is independent of nearby tactical networks.
This approach also provides the relative positions for each local token of a squad leader with a tactical radio and an Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK) or other visualization tool to keep track of the locations of his squad members – even in environments where use is denied Global Positioning System (GPS).
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In the first phase of the RN DMC project, L3Harris will test long-range capability in laboratory and long-range controlled outdoor environments to validate the technology’s ability to operate for at least 31 miles. The test will have at least two tactical radios; two tactical ground waveforms and one satellite communications waveform (SATCOM); and 10 SWaP-optimized mosaic tiles.
The terrestrial test validates distributed to distributed coherent communication over a terrestrial link with a length of at least 1 km between two mosaic element antennas and includes static and moving user test cases.
This test will take approximately 10 months. The mosaic antennas each have at least ten tiles – a total of 20 tiles – and the system is tested with at least two tactical radios and two terrestrial tactical waveforms. This test shows an Army use case where two squads about a mile apart can communicate using RN DMC technology.
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In the future, a relay test exercise at the end of Phase 2 will show a relay from a floor mosaic antenna to an air mosaic back to a distant mosaic floor antenna approximately 100 km away.
The third phase comprises the adaptation of the RN DMC technology to the needs of the US military service and will be demonstrated in a service-controlled field exercise. The end of the third phase includes service-specific systems ready for experimentation, design documents, and performance assessments. as well as a field exercise.
For more information, please contact L3Harris Communications Systems-West online at www.l3harris.com or DARPA at www.darpa.mil.