ThinKom Ka-band Satellite Antenna System Used by the US Gov National Airborne Operations Center Aircraft

The U.S. government’s E-4B National Airborne Operations Center aircraft will now be enabled with next-gen Ka-band aeronautical satellite antenna systems from ThinKom Solutions. ThinKom Solutions is a leading provider of innovative highly affordable compact broadband antenna solutions for aeronautical, on-the-move (OTM) and man-portable applications. The company’s primary products uniquely enable near-term worldwide availability of affordable high-data-rate connectivity in the X-, Ku-, Ka- and Q-bands.

The E-4B aircraft (SLC3S-A) serves as the National Airborne Operations Center and is a key component of the National Command Systems for the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, providing secure and highly-survivable 24/7/365 global communications.

ThinKom was competitively selected to supply its ThinAir Falcon-Ka2517 fuselage-mounted phased-array antenna systems for installation on the E-4B platforms under a modernization program to replace the aging less-efficient Ku-band ESA systems. The new satcom system will enable more reliable and more cost-efficient higher-bandwidth voice, data and video connectivity in a highly-survivable low-profile subsystem that can exploit both military and commercial satellite assets. Installations are now underway and the upgrades are expected to become operational by the third quarter of this year.

The ThinAir Ka-band fully integrated satcom suite provides industry-leading high throughput and transponder bandwidth efficiency. It supports data rates up to 400 Mbps forward link and 100 Mbps return link. The phased-array antenna apertures are packaged in the industry’s lowest-profile radome, eliminating aerodynamic drag in flight. The unit’s superior high skew angle performance ensures highly efficient connectivity in equatorial regions, while also being able to reliably close links along high-latitude/polar routes at elevation angles below 10 degrees. Importantly, it is the only commercially available Ka-band airborne antenna system with the bandwidth and beam agility to support hybrid operation with both geostationary (GEO) and low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite networks.

The system’s low-profile form factor and fuselage footprint is designed to fit easily on a wide range of military and commercial air transport aircraft including regional, single-aisle and dual-aisle airframes. The ThinAir Falcon-Ka2517 has achieved FAA RTCA/DO-160 qualifications, and ARSTRAT/WGS/DISA certifications for the E-4B platform are expected in Q3 2018.