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New hybrid satellite technology unveiled

A global defence contractor has launched new technology designed to expand satellite coverage by approximately 190 per cent.

user iconReporter
Tue, 24 Aug 2021
New hybrid satellite technology unveiled
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Lockheed Martin has announced the development of the Wide-Angle ESA Fed Reflector (WAEFR) antenna — a hybrid of a phased array Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) and a parabolic dish.

The WAEFR technology is expected to increase the coverage area by approximately 190 per cent compared with traditional phased array antennas.

The development of the antenna is part of a broader push to securely connect warfighting platforms to enable joint all-domain command and control (JADC2).

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“We adopted a commercial mindset to quickly mature this technology and discovered there were multiple use cases and applications that could benefit from this new hybrid antenna,” Chris Herring, vice president of advanced program development at Lockheed Martin Space, said.

“5G.MIL technologies like this will bring greater connectivity, faster and more reliable networks, and new data capabilities to support our customers as they navigate the complexity of 21st century battlefields.”

Other touted features of the WAEFR technology include:

  • high performance gain of a dish with the beam agility of an ESA;
  • Low Size Weight and Power (SWAP) common product solution to accommodate any orbital altitude or ground terminal application; and
  • advances in 3D-printing technology and accelerated parts production.

According to Lockheed Martin, the antenna would also benefit the broader communications and ISR communities, providing a more scanning solution compared to gimbaled designs.

“The primary benefit of the WAEFR approach is accomplishing more mission with fewer resources,” Thomas Hand, PhD, associate technical fellow at Lockheed Martin Space, said.

“While state-of-the-art ESA solutions can address more demanding link performance, capacity, and data rates using multiple agile analogue beams, they do so at a premium.”

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