An urgent request from Special Operations Command for an entire satellite communications terminal that would fit in a rucksack, something that couldn’t easily be done with the existing 60-pound-plus system, led AFRL Information Directorate engineer Dave Legare on a search for rugged, lightweight materials.
Legare turned to nano-coated composites and found a small company in Utah with composite prototyping experience, Eclipse Composites Engineering. The partnership was synergistic from the start: Legare provided the radio frequency and antenna design expertise; Eclipse brought materials and fabricating skills to the table. Together, they addressed the engineering challenges posed by reducing the weight of the satellite communication terminal by over 60 percent, then making the dish collapsible so that it would fit in a briefcase-sized container.
The solution was to break the dish into six petals that would stack together in a case and could be reassembled in seconds by clicking the petals together in any order without tools. For special operations teams, this now-fielded technology solution has been a lifesaver.
The innovative antenna resulting from the partnership is a prime example of Air Force technology transfer benefiting the U.S. defense mission.
Cleared 01 Jun 2017, Case No. 88ABW-2017-2750