Lockheed Martin has created a new type of satellite dish technology that is applicable for a wide range of use cases on satellites and ground terminals, including space-based 5G. The Wide Angle ESA Fed Reflector (WAEFR) antenna is a hybrid of a phased array Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) and a parabolic dish that increases coverage area by 190% compared to traditional phased array antennas at a lower cost.
This antenna is part of a larger research and development investment in 5G.MIL technologies that will optimize and securely connect warfighting platforms to enable Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2).
The team rapidly prototyped, tested and validated this system in a matter of months compared to what previously took years.
“We adopted a commercial mindset to quickly mature this technology and discovered there were multiple use cases and applications that could benefit from this new hybrid antenna,” said Chris Herring, vice president of advanced program development at Lockheed Martin Space.
“5G.MIL technologies like this will bring greater connectivity, faster and more reliable networks, and new data capabilities to support our customers as they navigate the complexity of 21st century battlefields.”
WAEFR also features high performance gain of a dish with the beam agility of an ESA and advances in 3D-printing technology and accelerated parts production.
This type of antenna will also benefit the broader communications and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) communities by providing a more reliable scanning solution compared to gimbaled designs.
“While state of the art ESA solutions can address more demanding link performance, capacity, and data rates using multiple agile analog beams, they do so at a premium,” said Thomas Hand, Ph.D., associate technical fellow at Lockheed Martin Space.
“The primary benefit of the WAEFR approach is accomplishing more missions with fewer resources.”