The new Wide-Angle ESA Fed Reflector (WAEFR) antenna is a cross between a phased array Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) and a parabolic dish.
It’s design has been part of a broader push to securely connect warfighting platforms to enable joint all-domain command and control (JADC2).
“We adopted a commercial mindset to quickly mature this technology and discovered there were multiple use cases and applications that could benefit from this new hybrid antenna,” said Chris Herring, vice president of advanced program development at Lockheed Martin Space.
“5G.MIL technologies like this will bring greater connectivity, faster and more reliable networks, and new data capabilities to support our customers as they navigate the complexity of 21st century battlefields.”
Other touted features of the WAEFR technology include:
- High-performance gain of a dish with the beam agility of an ESA;
- Low Size Weight and Power (SWAP) common product solution to accommodate any orbital altitude or ground terminal application; and
- advances in 3D-printing technology and accelerated parts production.
According to Lockheed Martin, the antenna would also benefit the broader communications and ISR communities, providing a more scanning solution compared to gimbaled designs.
“The primary benefit of the WAEFR approach is accomplishing more mission with fewer resources,” Thomas Hand, PhD, associate technical fellow at Lockheed Martin Space, said.
“While state-of-the-art ESA solutions can address more demanding link performance, capacity, and data rates using multiple agile analogue beams, they do so at a premium.”