Enhanced satellite communications capability now possible with portable antenna

AIR FORCE ROME RESEARCH SITE, New York. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has newly gained access to a portable antenna with tracking capability that can be deployed in places where these capabilities are traditionally limited, such as a remote battlefield.

Huntsville, Alabama-based GATR Technologies -- with support from the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Program and the Air Force Research Laboratory -- developed a version of its inflatable antenna, which it calls GATR TRAC. The new antenna is relatively lightweight, can be packed into four cases that can be checked as airline luggage or shipped by traditional package delivery services, and then assembled at its destination in about 30 minutes.

Tracking antennas are used to communicate with satellites in nongeostationary orbits, as well as with other moving objects, including aircraft. Older, legacy systems require a rigid dish with heavy-duty structural support,which makes them difficult to use in many situations.

“The GATR TRAC system is a significant step forward over traditional satellite communication systems available today,” said Peter Ricci, an engineer with AFRL’s Information Directorate. “It affords the user the ability to easily transport and set the system up in remote areas where it once was logistically impossible.”

GATR (a unit of Cubic Corp.) has already begun selling the portable product to and commercial customers.

GATR Technologies, in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force, has developed a portable antenna with tracking capability. Shown here (in the foreground), the GATR TRAC packs into cases that are easy to transport compared to traditional antenna systems, such as the one shown in the background. (Photo courtesy of GATR Technologies.)

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