Interoperable, ultra-low profile, high-gain satcom on the move

How it works

Speed read

  1. Based on patented innovations in dynamic beam forming and system architecture, Hanwha Phasor’s active electronically-steered antenna (AESA) is a radical departure from convention.
  2. The entire RF chain is encompassed within its proprietary ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit).
  3. Our ASICs are quad cells – each one is connected to four patch antennas, creating the radiating element.
  4. An array of interconnected elements make up the basic system building block: a core module measuring just 25 mm deep (the fully integrated antenna is only 7 cms).
  5. This modular approach enables the aperture to be scaled up without loss of performance; can be configured in combinations of receive and transmit to meet link requirements within a single antenna; and can be integrated with platforms as a flat or conformable unit.
  6. The ASIC dynamically controls the phase and amplitude of each element to form and steer the composite beam, allowing it to track Ku band satellite signals from moving platforms to moving satellites.
  7. With its software-defined antenna architecture, our AESA’s tracking technology exceeds those of conventional parabolic systems.
  8. Multiple independent beams enable the tracking of several independent satellites simultaneously.
  9. Dynamic beam shaping, tapering and nulling avoids adjacent satellite interference.
  10. Reliability is intrinsic to this solid-state design.

At a more leisurely pace

What makes our architecture different?

All active phased array technologies are based on the same fundamental physics. However, solutions can be based on a range of architectures.

The differences centre on how and where the signals at each array element are combined or divided.

RF combining/dividing
Traditional phased arrays combine at RF (radio frequency) which requires expensive, bulky components to maintain performance. They do not scale easily to larger aperture sizes due to significant transmission losses. Complexity increases as multiple beams are implemented and additional local oscillators may be required to mitigate transmission losses by combining at intermediate frequency.

Digital combining
Digitising the signal at, or near, each element does allow significant control and hundreds of beams. However, very complex, high-speed digital processors and power-hungry DACs and ADCs are required across the aperture making scaling up demanding, particularly on the receive antenna, and dissipating high heat across the system.

The way we do it
Hanwha Phasor deploys an inventive and patented approach to implementing our phased array antenna: analogue IQ baseband combining across the antenna enabled by an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). This enables an active phased array terminal capable of GEO, HEO, MEO and LEO connectivity, while delivering a superior experience for users. Our array consumes less power than pure digital alternatives, generates very high performance for the platform real estate occupied and offers an elegant solution to this intrinsic system trade-off.

At each radiating element, the signal is mixed up or down from RF to analogue IQ baseband. This allows the rest of the system functions (phase-shifters, attenuators, polarisation control and combining and distributing across the array) to be carried out at the lowest frequency possible. These low frequency circuits are less complex to design, more stable, more efficient and less ‘lossy’ than those of other AESA architectures.

All this capability is packaged within ultra-slim core modules of just 25mm (1 inch) deep (with the fully integrated antenna amounting to no more than seven centimetres/2 ¾ inches), offering multiple mission-critical and operational advantages:

  • Accurate and fast tracking, without the need for external navigation or position information
  • Greater accuracy arising from more controllable phase-shifting and attenuation
  • Significantly reduced transmission losses, leading to a more efficient and sensitive system – distributing and combining signals across the entire array at analogue IQ baseband dramatically shortens distances to transmit high frequency RF signals
  • Low profile, conformable and scalable apertures as the technology can be increased in area due to the absence of high frequency RF losses
  • Low-power multi-beam capability driven by our analogue IQ baseband architecture.

About the ASIC and the hardware

Each ASIC is closely coupled to four resonant patch antennas operating at the required frequencies (10.7 – 12.75 GHz for receive and 14.0 – 14.5 GHz for transmit).

Some 153 (transmit) and 112 (receive) ASICs are connected to 612 and 448 patch antennas respectively in the 180 x 360 mm core module – in aggregate, some 3,672 antenna elements on the transmit aperture and 2,688 on the receive of our M6 (six-module) antenna system.

Embedded in the core module, these integrated circuits dynamically control the signal phasing of each element patch antenna in real time, steering the transmit and receive beams in any direction. This will enable the array to rapidly acquire and track any satellite in any orbit from a moving platform, even in extreme conditions.

The RF signal received by the patch antennas is down-converted to give a baseband IQ output. Each output from an individual ASIC is constructively combined with the output of every other element in the system to produce the global baseband output. This combining method incorporates a proprietary algorithm to maximise the signal strength from the direction of the satellite.

Conversely, the baseband IQ signal is fed to each of the transmit ASICs for up-conversion to the required Ku band transmit frequency and points the beam toward the satellite.

Our pre-production M6

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1

Integrated antenna control unit – single LRU solution

2

Standard L-band modem interface (analog baseband optional), Web GUI and OpenAMIP over Ethernet antenna controls. Interoperable with most modems and no proprietary interface required

3

Solid-state antenna – no moving parts, nothing to wear out, no drive bearings issues

4

Built-in dual GNSS receivers and INS removes need for external navigation (PNT) input

5

Each ASIC is connected to four patch antennas, reducing power consumption and external noise injection

6

Each identical module is a tightly integrated stack of PCBAs, providing structural support and thermal management in a very condensed package

7

Optimised element spacing for high gain and top scanning performance

8

Each antenna element can be independently controlled for both phase and amplitude, enabling highly advanced beamforming

9

Up/down conversion between RF analog and baseband takes place in our proprietary ASICs, delivering a power consumption dividend versus pure digital conversion

10

Fully sealed and protected for all-weather operation – no user maintenance required

The PCBA sandwich
Each identical core module is a tightly integrated stack of printed circuit boards (PCBAs). This provides structural support and thermal management in a very condensed array that can be conformed and shaped to most curved surfaces, minimising drag, weight and visual impact.

The top board hosts the array of element patch antennas and Hanwha Phasor’s patented ASIC microchips on the underside.

A second PCBA provides the control and communications. Additional boards provide power and distribute the sensitive local oscillator signals.

Multiple transmit and receive modules are used to create the desired aperture size. Today, we are prototyping a fully integrated six-module aperture system. Tomorrow, we are aiming to flex our antenna’s intrinsic modularity with an extended range of standard apertures designed to meet link requirements precisely.

For an in-depth discussion of our proprietary technology under a non-disclosure agreement – phase and polarisation control, chip architecture, Rx chain acquisition, Tx initiation and beam-steering, signal interruptions and reacquisition and signal handover and more – please contact us