The tactical or battlefield communications market requires transportable systems that can be set up quickly in the field, under difficult conditions, to establish communication links. Existing antenna technologies have issues:
- Omni-directional antennas provide low gain, are easy to intercept and offer no spatial diversity.
- High-gain antennas that use mechanical positioners/gimbals are typically large, heavy and slow to steer.
- Passive arrays (PESA) are expensive and have high losses and low efficiency.
- Active arrays (AESA) are power-hungry and expensive.
Compared to omni-directional antennas, Holographic Beam Forming (HBF) antennas provide narrow beam patterns to avoid interception while supporting spatial diversity. They offer the beamsteering and beam forming performance of phased array antennas – PESA and AESA – without the high C-SWaP (cost, size, weight and power consumption). Better still, HBF antennas can conform to curved surfaces like the underside of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Low size, weight, and power – and aerodynamic conformance – allow UAVs to fly farther and faster, devoting less payload to typical communications gear and enabling wholly new mission profiles.