Dual-band low-profile antennas for intra-flight communication and data links

Period of Performance: 09/30/2014 - 09/28/2016


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

First RF Corp.
5340 Airport Blvd. Array
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: High speed communication channels and tactical data links are becoming increasingly important for both military and commercial applications. The need for high speed inter-flight communication and data transfer is validated by the existence of the Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) for the F-22 and the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) for the F-35. Antennas for these two links are unique, and the two links are not interoperable. This is a problem for not only legacy, but for next generation aircraft, as well. The FIRST RF solution is significantly advantageous in that it breaks from traditional, timeworn technology approaches in order to offer a lower cost, modular, scalable design; all while maintaining conformance to the platform outer mold line (OML) and LPI/LPD functions. The baseline approach during Phase II will develop affordable MADL-compatible apertures for both traditional and low observable (LO) platforms, with an objective of an antenna system compatible with both IFDL and MADL communications that will be valid for next generation aircraft offering inter-flight communication between any mixed aircraft fleet. BENEFIT: The greatest benefit to the Air Force will be the enabling of inter-aircraft communication and data transfer between any mixed aircraft fleet. The FIRST RF technology and developmental plan offers a lower cost, modular approach that enables a much quicker design cycle. This results in hardware that may be validated on-platform sooner and at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. The technology approach with this design will also allow for simple, scalability solution for various platform requirements (i.e. gain, beamwidth, G/T, EIRP, SWAP). FIRST RF has identified additional commercial and military applications for this technology enabling GB/s data rates for extended range communications.