Cubic has demonstrated its GATR 1.2m satellite communications (SATCOM) antenna at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, FL this week, providing MONS with an insight into its current concept of operations with US Special Forces.
Speaking to MONS, Cubic’s Deputy Programme Manager for GATR, DeMond Dearing explained how the inflatable radome and flexible parabolic reflector solution was being utilised by force elements from across the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in the operational environment.
Used in an expeditionary role, the GATR is ideally suited to the contemporary operating environment (COE) which continues to demand high levels of bandwidth in order to support data heavy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission sets, Dearing highlighted.
Cubic officials explained how the 1.2m antenna (GATR is also available in 0.65, 0.75, 1.2, 1.8, 2.4 and 4m configurations) was capable of providing special operations teams with up to 15MB of data in downlink; and up to 3MB in uplink across the X-Band. Such data rates make the GATR ideally suited to the exchange of topographical maps and other data across C4ISR mission suites, Dearing added.
The 1.2m variant can be carried in a single backpack and can be deployed for operation within 18 minutes of being unpacked, it was explained. The solution also features a quick-release capability to deflate the sphere allowing for rapid collapse of the antenna should it be required.
Defence sources explained to MONS how US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Operational Detachment Bravo (ODB) teams, tasked with providing a C2 spine to combat elements, were currently using GATR technology on deployment in Afghanistan. Sources explained how a three-man team within the ODB were tasked with deployment of the GATR. No further details were provided due to operational security concerns.
The GATR is also available in Ku-band while Dearing explained to MONS how the company was also considering the introduction of Ka-band SATCOM in the future. Weighing a total of less than 34kg, the 1.2m variant remains suitable for, “first-in deployments, remote applications and contingency scenarios where transportation and space are limited,” company sources described.
The solution is optimised to be operated between -32C and 55C and retains survivability in gusting conditions up to 40mph, Dearing added. However, systems are capable of surviving stronger wind conditions although they may not retain an operational capacity, Dearing explained. The 1.2m variant relies upon less than 150W in power consumption for the Ku-band variant and less than 250W in x-band. Ku-band configurations rely upon Intelsat satellite constellations while X-band variants use Skynet and XTAR constellations, company literature confirmed.
“Compared to other deployable rigid dishes of comparable size, the GATR’s unique shape and design enable extreme portability; reliability in extreme environments; and easy set up,” company documents reiterated. Dearing also explained how the 1.2m variant remained highly applicable to cold weather operations as well as jungle warfare, where access to satellite signals can remain difficult to achieve.