GATR Technologies’ portable satellite antennas aren’t hot off the presses, but seeing them in person at the Satellite 2015 Expo in Washington DC was mesmerizing. The inflatable communications hubs are amongst the most impressive SATCOM developments over the last decade.
Like many engineering challenges, this one deals with the peculiar demands of our warfighters — in this case, for “deployments where the movement and installation of 2+ meter class standard deployable rigid satellite antennas is challenging.”
GATR’s portable, lightweight, inflatable satellite communications (SATCOM) antennas — for the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) — are key in forward-deployed, remote outposts where portability, bad weather, and rapid installation are crucial, mitigating circumstances.
Back in 2013, the Army Contracting Command at Picatinny Arsenal, Ala. Awarded GATR a $440 million contract for inflatable satellite antennas of various sizes, and GATR responded with four different systems, ranging from 1.2 to 4 meters.
GATR’s flagship product, the 2.4 meter antenna system, can be packed into as few as two cases weighing less than 99 pounds each, up to an 85% reduction in size and volume over conventional rigid portable system weighing up to 1,000+ pounds and requiring 6-10 large cases.
And speed is key — the antennas can be set up in 30 minutes or less.
The inflatable antennas also offer stability in inclement weather, and the company’s 4-meter system can withstand high winds of 40+ MPH.
The designs combine the “transmission power advantages of a large antenna with the low weight and portability of a small aperture antenna,” making the inflatable antennas the “most portable satellite antennas in the world,” according to the company, and it’s hard to argue with the results.
GATR also offers a 1.2 meter portable antenna that, all told, can fit in a backpack weighing less than 50 pounds. The average infantryman regularly humps mission-critical equipment up to 100 pounds or more, so any weight reduction (that doesn’t include MREs) is a godsend.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense