New ThinKom Antenna Design Offers Flexible Installation Options for Special-Purpose Aircraft

March 16, 2021 Photo(s): By ThinKom Solutions
Low-profile ThinKom VICTS antenna with embedded control unit.

ThinKom Solutions, Inc. has developed a new product variant of its VICTS aero satellite communication antennas enabling more flexible installation choices and allowing for smaller distributed and embedded phased-array applications.

The new product variant, which targets government and military beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) satellite communication markets, integrates the VICTS antenna, antenna control unit (ACU) and power-supply (PS) electronics into a single low-profile small-footprint package. This eliminates the need for a separate line-replaceable unit (LRU) for the ACU/PS. Further, the unique high-efficiency and low-power characteristics of the VICTS phased array fully eliminate the need for other bulky and power-consuming LRUs, such as power-conditioning units, heat-exchanger units and external RF/power/cooling manifolds.

“This new design is part of our strategy to become the preferred satellite antenna choice for smaller volume-limited and power-limited platforms,” said Bill Milroy, chairman and CTO of ThinKom Solutions.

The incorporation of the ACU into the base of the antenna does not result in any increase in mounting footprint and maintains the antenna’s highly favored low-profile characteristics. The antenna measures less than 9 cm in total height, while retaining the flight-proven, high-reliability design and product features for which the VICTS antennas have become known.

An added benefit of the new product variant is enabling the transmit and receive antennas to be co-located or alternatively mounted in remotely separated platform locations. This maximizes application flexibility in terms of packaging, weight balance and other airframe and operational considerations.

“The integrated antenna unit will provide enhanced capabilities for our government customers by eliminating the separate ACU/PS LRU,” said Milroy. “In some cases, this will facilitate fully embedded installations, completely eliminating the external radome altogether. The absence of a visible radome uniquely enables highly reliable, high-bandwidth BLOS connectivity on sensitive and high-survivability special-mission aircraft and platforms. The system fully supports low-probability-of-detection and low-probability-of-intercept emissions characteristics and provides proven over-the-air compatibility with the latest hopped and spread-spectrum waveforms.”

ThinKom has begun limited low-rate production of the new VICTS antenna product for a U.S. government customer. Initial units are currently going through integration, with formal qualification scheduled to start later in 2021.