The development of antennas for use on moving platforms such as aircraft and ground vehicles has not been difficult for low-frequency applications where near-omnidirectional antenna beam patterns provide sufficient RF gain. However, at higher frequencies an air or ground vehicle antenna must possess a degree of directionality to achieve sufficient gain to transmit and receive data.
Directional antennas used in air and ground vehicle applications must also have beam steering capabilities in order to maintain line-of-sight communications. Where the dynamics are not too great, beam steering on moving platforms has been accomplished mechanically. However, when dynamics are high, electronic beam steering is the only means that will suffice.
To address the above, Air Force researchers have developed a communications antenna system and structure that provides real-time control over electronic beam steering and frequency band, while possessing a simple planar structure with adaptability to conform to a host platform – it could be wrapped around the leading edge of a wing. The new antenna involves the selective formation of radiating patch antenna geometries via RF switch connection of a pattern of smaller patch segments on the front surface of the antenna. The highest frequency mode is formed by a single patch (or a series of patches to form a full antenna array) which is resonant at this highest frequency.
- Very thin and lightweight; can be made conformal to the platform on which it is mounted
- Frequency selection is fast and software controlled
- The antenna can further incorporate electronic beam steering via phase shifting or true time delay applied within the signal feed to each radiating patch element in the array for any of the available antenna frequency configurations selected
- Wide bandwidth antenna solves the problem of having to integrate a separate system of antenna arrays
- US application number 20170062928 available for license
- Potential for collaboration with Air Force scientists and engineers