U.S. Army officials
seek to replace the
For decades, the U.S. Army has relied on the ubiquitous whip antenna for an array of air and ground communications, but those antennas often interfere with one another and are plainly visible to enemy soldiers in search of a target. Now, service researchers are using a wide range of technologies that could begin replacing the pervasive whip, providing more efficient, effective and reliable combat communications. Options include antennas embedded with vehicle armor, transparent antennas integrated into windshields and smart antenna technology capable of determining the optimal direction to focus transmission power.
The rule of thumb on the battlefield is that the more antennas sticking off of a vehicle, the more likely the vehicle is a high-value target with a high-ranking occupant. But this situation could change as officials at the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, investigate technologies for short- and long-term replacements for whip antennas, whether for dismounted, mounted or airborne communications.
“The antenna is the intermediary between the radio and the network. You can have a state-of-the-art radio and a very substantive network, but if you don’t have the antenna, the whole thing falls apart,” says Mahbub Hoque, acting director of CERDEC’s Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate. “We have programs in this directorate—in the antenna division—starting from basic research to develop prototypes to technology ready to transition to the program managers and program executive officers.”