When the U.S. Air Force needed a new secure satellite communications system, one company was able to show up at the starting line with an 80 percent solution based on an existing product line serving the Army and the Navy.
Scientists at the U.S. Defense Department’s top research and development agency are seeking the best new ideas to provide a larger-scale mobile network to support an increasing array of bandwidth-hungry mobile computing devices for warfighters.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for new technical approaches that would expand the number and capacity of Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANETs) nodes available in the field.
The synergy between operational planning and radar sensing provides enhanced search and rescue capabilities.
The U.S. Coast Guard is combining high-frequency coastal radar data with traditional oceanographic and geographic information to improve its chances of rescuing people in distress on the high seas. By merging these different sources of data, the Coast Guard enhances its search abilities while also providing better weather prediction for both its search and rescue teams and an endangered public in coastal areas.
Melding the disciplines of spectrum combat will enable greater flexibility and more capabilities.
The growth in battlefield electronics has spurred a corresponding growth in electronic warfare. In the same manner that innovative technologies have spawned new capabilities, electronic warfare is becoming more complex as planners look to incorporate new systems into the battlespace.
An upcoming demonstration could lead to a giant leap in common electromagnetic components.
The latest generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-K, updates existing technology with an eye to the future. New electronics and better power management will help extend the TDRS constellation for at least another decade, but NASA already is looking ahead to major changes in the system’s capabilities that would define the next-generation TDRS.
Scientists bend, not break, the laws of physics.
Faced with limitations imposed by physics, laboratory researchers are generating antenna innovations by tweaking constructs to change the rules of the antenna game. Their efforts do not seek to violate long-held mathematical theorems or laws of physics. Instead, they are working to find lawful ways of working around limitations that long have inhibited the development of antennas that would suit user needs with fewer tradeoffs.
Beamforming could help increase capacity of cellphone networks to meet the demands of data-hungry smartphones and tablets.
Academic investigations are establishing the future of transmission technology for troops and civilians.
Improving antennas for defense or commercial purposes has as much to do with mathematics as it does with hardware. Researchers in the Wireless Networking and Communications Group at the University of Texas at Austin are exploring algorithms along with other properties that should improve communications systems on the battlefield.
U.S. Army officials seek to replace the commonly used device.
U.S. Air Force researchers use 3-D printers and other cutting-edge concepts to create the next innovations.
There is no Moore’s Law for antennas because size reduction and performance improvement will always be subject to the limitations imposed by electromagnetic physics and material properties. But steady advances in computer technologies, such as electromagnetic modeling and simulation and 3-D printing, enable antenna technology researchers to push the limits of possibility on behalf of the warfighters.
Researchers in the United Kingdom have completed a preliminary investigation into the use of millimeter-wave, body-worn antenna arrays to create mobile ad hoc networking for dismounted combat soldiers. The effort proved the feasibility and benefits of such a network as well as provided a platform for future study of the concept. Personnel involved in the experiments focused their work on the 60-GHz band, which offers the high amount of bandwidth necessary for troops to exchange large quantities of information on the battlefield. The short range of the communications enhances covertness by reducing the chance for enemies to exploit transmissions, and it also reduces interference.
Digital natives probably don’t remember how home TV viewers had to manually adjust “rabbit ears”—those odd-shaped dipole antennas that sat atop a TV sprouting wires and sporting any number of dials to turn in the hope of improving the picture. But when a recently uncovered use for an alloy comprising gallium and indium becomes widespread as the go-to material for antennas, the newest antennas may be able to adjust themselves without a human hand. Although only in the second stage of research, the combination of these well-known materials already has demonstrated that when bent and twisted, antennas return to their original shape; when cut with a razor, they heal.
Researchers are pursuing advances in radio antenna technology to build communication equipment into body armor and to offer more capable and efficient methods for countering roadside bombs. Virtual modeling techniques incorporating developments in materials science currently are testing and verifying prototype equipment before physical testing begins. This combination of cutting-edge research and simulation has rapidly matured these antenna technologies and prepared them for initial operational evaluations.