COTM Evaluation Programme Expected to Lead to Prototyping in 2023
Hawthorne, CA-based ThinKom Solutions announced on 20 April it has begun to deliver phased array satellite terminals to the US Army, which will include them in an evaluation of communications-on-the-move (COTM) options under an Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) pilot programme.
The ABCT COTM solution will integrate enhanced mobile network capability directly onto select vehicles to make command posts more expeditionary, while enabling soldiers to retain network connectivity as they manoeuvre across the battlefield. The Army is currently setting the stage for an ABCT on-the-move pilot this year, to evaluate new commercial network system prototypes integrated onto select ABCT vehicles. The goal is to enhance mobile battlefield ABCT network communications, mission command, situational awareness and ultimately unit lethality.
Three ThinKom ThinSat 300 vehicular satellite antennas were acquired by General Dynamics Mission Systems for testing as a design option for mounting on command-post vehicles in armoured formations. As a subcontractor, ThinKom provided these three antennas as part of the Army’s contract award to General Dynamics last September, to support integration, engineering and fielding services for the ABCT COTM experimentation effort.
The Ku-band ThinSat 300 antennas are based on ThinKom’s patented and proven Variable Inclination Continuous Transverse Stub (VICTS) phased-array technology. VICTS antennas are currently deployed on 1,600+ aircraft, having accruded over 20 million operational hours, equating to 100,000 hours mean-time-between-failure. Vehicle-mounted VICTS antennas are also widely deployed in a range of commercial and government COTM programmes.
ThinKom’s low-profile, lightweight antennas provide industry-leading spectral efficiency and are capable of sustaining network connectivity at high vehicle speeds, on- or off-road. They support robust network operations at very high and extremely low elevation angle requirements, with near-instant connectivity recovery after partial or sustained blockages. Designed to work with a full range of modems and networks, the ThinKom system provides flexible ‘future-proof’ interoperability options with current and next-gen satellite systems, including geostationary and low earth orbit constellations.
The COTM experimentation programme is expected to lead to prototype deployment and testing under the Army’s two-year Capability Set cycle in 2023, according to the Army’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical.
“The ABCT pilot program will demonstrate that our field-proven commercial off-the-shelf technology can provide a reliable and low-cost solution to meet this demanding requirement in support of US armed forces,” stated Bill Milroy, ThinKom’s CTO and Chairman, also noting that ThinKom recently completed successful of a VICTS antenna using the frequency-hopping waveform on a US protected communications satellite network.