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Navy

Hybrid antenna array

Combines passive and active architecture, and locates power and cooling intensive components in a separate area

Communications
Hybrid antenna array includes an exciter (1), coupled to a TX/RX section (3). A waveguide/signal transmission line (9) couples a BFN (13) with the TX, RX equipment rack (3). The exciter (1) and TX/RX equipment racks (3) are in an equipment room (5) that houses cooling and high power systems (6) thus avoiding a need to route these systems to the radiating location (11). In this example, the equipment room (5) is located below deck of a ship and the radiating location (11) is on a tower or mast (7).

Downsides of active antenna arrays with combined transmit (TX) and receive (RX) elements are the costly high-power and cooling infrastructure, and the provisioning needed at an antenna location. Existing active array designs require higher maintenance, experience increased failure rates (due to, among other things, heat generated by transmit amplifiers), and are undesirable particularly in remote locations where maintenance is not easily performed. This includes mast and tower locations which increase hazards to maintenance personnel.

To address these concerns, Navy researchers have developed a hybrid active array that enables remotely located transmitter components to pump a transmit signal up to a radiating location through a beam forming network (BFN). Thus, cooling and high-power supply system provisioning are located on the ground or in a control room, away from the TX/RX array. With the remote TX components feeding the BFN, an amplitude distribution of the antenna aperture is set to control the TX/RX sidelobes. Reducing antenna sidelobes during transmit operations reduces radiation outside of a main beam, further reducing signal returns in the sidelobes and providing noise lowering capability not achieved in existing active arrays. Applications for this technology include radar display control systems for managing self-driving cars, or automated equipment control systems using radar signal inputs.

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