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ThinKom Wins Defense Innovation Unit Contract to Test ThinAir Antenna

Seven Month Test Regime to Assess USN Future Satcom Requirements

ThinKom Solutions (Hawthorne, CA) has been awarded a contract by the US Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to test and evaluate one of its commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) aeronautical phased-array antenna systems as a potential solution for next-generation communications on US Navy ships, the company announced on 6 August.

Under the seven-month contract, ThinKom is delivering a ThinAir Ka2517 antenna system for on-board testing to meet USN requirements for Multi-Domain Tactical Communications (MDTC). The Ka-band antenna, based on ThinKom’s patented VICTS technology, will demonstrate the capability for integration on a naval vessel. A concurrent design study phase will evaluate performance modifications requested by the Navy.

DIU is a US DoD organisation focused exclusively on fielding and scaling commercial technology across the US military to help solve critical problems. Through its agile processes, contract authorities and diverse team of experts, DIU has reduced the time it takes to identify a problem, prototype a commercial solution and implement it into the field to 12-24 months.

ThinKom’s VICTS phased arrays are currently installed on more than 1,550 commercial aircraft and have accrued more than 17 million flight hours, demonstrating mean time between failure (MTBF) rates well in excess of 100,000 hours. The Ka2517 terminals are in full production and currently operational on a fleet of US government aircraft.

ThinKom’s VICTS technology currently meets all of the DIU requirements for a low-cost, low-risk COTS solution that can be deployed on a DDG-1000 class destroyer,” commented Bill Milroy, Chief Technology Officer for ThinKom Solutions. “With millions of hours of service under the extreme dynamic and environmental conditions of modern commercial and military jet aircraft, ThinKom’s low-profile, compact VICTS antennas are ideally positioned to meet the Navy’s performance requirements on a platform at sea […] Our VICTS phased-array antennas are also uniquely capable — and proven — to provide uncompromising emission controls to meet the most stringent requirements for precision sidelobe control and grating lobe suppression, which are critical factors on a modern naval ship. Additionally, VICTS arrays, operating across the spectrum from C-band to W-band, have been verified by multiple third-party system integrators to be RF compatible with low radar cross section and low observable platforms and installations. Sidelobes are suppressed to enhance the low-probability-of-detection/interception and anti-jamming characteristics of the antenna, even when intentionally scanning to low elevation angles.”

ThinKom’s VICTS antennas have successfully completed multiple ground and in-flight tests, demonstrating seamless interoperability across satellites in low, medium and geostationary orbits with extremely fast switching speeds of less than one second and very high data throughput rates. In all cases, ThinKom antennas have demonstrated excellent spectral efficiency, beam agility, interference control, low-angle tracking and seamless inter-constellation operation.

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