High-tech satcom keeps Israeli F-16Is connected

Not where you would expect to see it. but Israel’s Elta brought its EL/K-1981 satellite communications system to the US Army show in Washington DC this week. This is the satcom fitted to Israeli F-16I Sufas, to provide wideband beyond line-of-sight communications. Now where would that have come in useful recently, I wonder?

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Satcom antenna (left) is housed under the bump in the dorsal spine (right)

Elta says it has used airborne radar technology to produce a steerable planar-array antenna small and light enough to fit in a fighter, and agile enough to track the geostationary satellite throughout combat manoeuvres. It says the Ku-band system is also used on Israeli AH-64 Apaches, where it has to look through the rotor.

“Satcom on the move” is still a rarity on fighters and helicopters, but not for much longer.

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