It is possible to completely remove the drag factor of an inflight internet satellite antenna? While electronically steered antenna (ESA) solutions promise to further reduce protrusions on the fuselage and limit drag in their future implementations, a new military-focused design from ThinKom completely eliminates the radome bump.
The company’s conformal design, now in production with an unnamed military partner, allows full performance of the system even when mounted below the fuselage surface. This conformal design results in a radome that is flush with the aircraft skin, minimizing drag and obscuring the presence of satcom functionality on the aircraft.
In a world where ESAs are frequently presented as the ideal solution, our VICTS platform continues to be chosen by the most demanding customers to provide the most reliable and high performing phased array antenna for their mission needs.– Bill Milroy, chairman and CTO of ThinKom Solutions
ThinKom’s offering delivers high spectral efficiency with relatively low power consumption. Competing ESAs consume significantly more power than a VICTS antenna, requiring complex and heavy liquid cooling systems. When considered in totality, the ThinKom approach reduces weight, power, and complexity on board, and increases reliability.
The design also involved physically separating the send and receive elements on the aircraft and pointing them to different satellites without the use of a centralized antenna controller unit. ThinKom addressed this challenge by integrating the tracking and control electronics, as well as inertial measurement units, into the base of each antenna. This design change greatly enhances the pointing accuracy of the two antennas, while reducing the overall weight of the system.
It is unlikely any commercial aircraft will see a similar implementation in the near future. It requires architecting the aircraft to support the antenna installation inside the structural framing of the fuselage, a complex change for existing designs. But some of the smaller technical adjustments could eventually find their way on to commercial aircraft.
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.
Leave a Reply