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California-based ThinKom Solutions has revealed the development of a new variant of its VICTS satcom antenna, enabling more flexible installation choices and allowing for smaller, distributed and embedded phased-array applications.

The new antenna, which targets government and military beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) satcom markets, integrates the VICTS antenna, antenna control unit (ACU) and power-supply (PS) electronics into a single, low-profile small-footprint package. This eliminates need for a separate line-replaceable unit (LRU) for the ACU/PS. Further, the unique high efficiency and low-power characteristics of the VICTS phased array entirely eliminate the need for other bulky and power-hungry LRUs, such as power-conditioning units, heat-exchangers and external RF/power/cooling manifolds.

This new design is part of our strategy to become the preferred satellite antenna choice for smaller volume-limited and power-limited platforms,” explained Bill Milroy, Chairman and CTO.

Incorporating the ACU into the antenna base does not result in any increase in mounting footprint, and maintains the antenna’s highly-favoured low profile. Less than 9cm high, the device retains the flight-proven, high-reliability design and product features for which VICTS antennas have become known.

An added benefit of the new variant is enabling the transmit and receive antennas to be co-located or alternatively mounted in widely separated platform locations. This maximises application flexibility in terms of packaging, weight balance and other airframe and operational considerations.

The integrated antenna unit will provide enhanced capabilities for our government customers by eliminating the separate ACU/PS LRU […] In some cases, this will facilitate fully embedded installations, completely eliminating the external radome altogether. The absence of a visible radome uniquely enables highly reliable, high-bandwidth BLOS connectivity on sensitive and high-survivability special-mission aircraft and platforms. The system fully supports low-probability-of-detection and low-probability-of-intercept emissions characteristics, and provides proven over-the-air compatibility with the latest hopped and spread-spectrum waveforms,” Milroy observed.

ThinKom has begun limited low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the new VICTS antenna product for a US government customer. Initial units are currently going through integration, with formal qualification scheduled to start later in 2021.

The new embedded ACU terminal. (Photo: ThinKom)

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