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Raytheon demonstrates low-drag airborne satcom

Raytheon has announced today demonstrating a dramatically smaller antenna to support satellite communications (satcom) for both military and commercial aircraft.

The advanced multiband communication antenna system (AMCAS) would replace high-drag, parabolic, satcom radomes on aircraft with a new aperture about 22 cm (8.5in) tall, Raytheon says.

"The low-profile technology, combined with low-cost, will enable broader applications across many platforms/markets," Paul Avella, a Raytheon senior manager, wrote in response to questions from flightglobal.com.

The technology is aimed at the US Air Force's next-generation widebody aircraft as it upgrades to the high-data rate advanced extremely high frequency (AEHF) satellites. But the same technology could also be attractive to commercial operators, including VIP aircraft.

"In airborne applications our solution contributes considerably less drag than do current antennas," Avella writes. "This means less fuel consumed which translates into more time-on-station, both very important considerations."

Raytheon demonstrated the new antenna technology on the Lincoln Laboratories' Boeing 707 "Paul Revere" testbed.

The company also plans to offer the technology for applications besides satcom.

So far, the same technical approach has also been demonstrated as a W-band (94 GHz) radar on a DeHavilland Twin Otter, Avella says. As a radar, the technology could be applied to penetrating targets buried underground, such as improvised explosive devices, he adds.

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