Digital Beamforming Arrays

Legacy Digital Beamforming Array installed on a Range Support Aircraft

Next-Generation Digital-Beamforming (DBF) Arrays

Our next generation of DBF antenna technology has extended the RF coverage of the antenna from S-band to L/S/C telemetry bands simultaneously.  We have utilized a tri-band array to demonstrate the first implementation of a new architecture that we call Universal Beamforming Technology (UBT), which can be applied to a wide variety of DBF applications, including communications, radar and telemetry.  

We partnered with an antenna element provider to demonstrate the following proof-of-concept hardware for a US Government customer:

  • RF operation 1 – 6 GHz

  • Scan extent: +/- 90 deg Azimuth and Elevation (with roll-off)

  • Target acquisition/tracking at <<13 dB EbN0 (the practical limit for zero BER)

  • Tracking rates > 100 deg./sec.

  • 16 simultaneous dual-polarized beams

  • Error-free bit rates up to 30 Mbps from a flying source (hardware supports 120Mbps)

  • Optimal (pre-detection) combination

  • Multipath mitigation due to novel processing approach


Highlights

We used current-generation low-cost commercially-available hardware to prototype a small-scale array to demonstrate such high performance with the potential for greatly-reduced SWaPC (Size Weight Power & Cost).

Excellent IM3 performance was demonstrated by the distributed digital receiver (an inherent feature of our DBF approach).

The System acquired and tracked 30 Mbps source moving at 120 deg/sec within +/-60 deg. field of view, and was even able to produce an error-free signal while tracking over +/- 90 deg in azimuth and/or elevation, in the presence of multipath.

Coming Up

We continue to develop UBT through our IRAD efforts, particularly in the following dimensions:

  • Increasing maximum data rate per channel

  • Increasing maximum aggregate data rate over all channels

  • Increasing maximum number of simultaneous beams

  • Reduce the SWAP footprint

  • Reduce the DBF cost by 3-5x compared to E-9 generation (2008)

  • Increase the hardware reliability and add fault tolerance

  • Fabricate flight-qualified production hardware for mission operation

  • Extend our UBT demonstration platlform from Rx-only to Tx/Rx

  • Demonstrate applicability of UBT to telemetry, communications and radar

  • Demonstrate multi-function capability using UBT

  • Investigate applications of UBT for ground, sea, air and space

  • Extend UBT to very large arrays


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