Digital Beamforming Arrays

Current Generation Digital Beamforming Array on NASA Global Hawk.

A Digital Beamforming Module (DBM) is a small multi-beam phased-array antenna. It can function as a stand alone antenna sensor, or in cooperation with other DBMs to form a very large antenna aperture. All DBMs within an array communicate through a mesh network and orient themselves as a single aperture capable of simultaneously forming multiple beams.

There is no requirement for DBMs to be installed on a planar surface or as a contiguous array.

A DBM array functions as a coherent antenna aperture and will compare favorably with a 70% efficient dish antenna occupying the same area. RF signals are transported as digital signals through the mesh.

The outputs of multiple beams are available at the terminus of the mesh, at a host controller, as digital or analog (IF or RF) signals at almost any desired frequency.

Unconventional beamforming techniques make possible for the DBMs to operate robustly even under severe multipath conditions.

DBMS afford extreme flexibility for the system designer, lacing the angular shape of the gain profile and the frequency coverage into the cost trade-space. DBMs are currently available for individual S-band and L-band operation, and will soon be functioning simultaneously at L & S-band and also at C-band.

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