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Gilat Satellite Networks Targets UAS SOTM

by Asif Anwar | Mar 04, 2013

Gilat Satellite Networks provides products and services for satellite-based broadband communications, with both ground segment equipment and VSATs. In operation for over 25 years, Gilat has developed an international footprint providing enterprises, service providers and operators with satellite-based connectivity solutions, including cellular backhaul, banking, retail, e-government and rural communication networks as well as developing an increasing focus on the consumer and Ka-band market. Over the past three years, Gilat has started to address the defense sector by expanding existing modem capabilities into this area as well as through the strategic acquisitions of Raysat Antenna Systems and Wavestream, companies that not only bring capabilities but are already entrenched in military programs.

The move into the defense sector has been driven by two trends which the company believes will underpin military technology investment over the next two to three decades. First is a move towards a net-centric environment which promotes the delivery of IT and communications systems down to the tactical level. Examples in this context include the US Win-T and Indian Tactical Communications Systems (TCS) programs. The ability to be able to deliver information and provide communication at the tactical level will need to be underpinned by equipment capable of providing these capabilities within the SWaP requirements for on-the-move communications.

The second related trend is the increasing use of UAS platforms and a growing need to have BLOS capabilities to enhance the mission envelopes for which these platforms are being used. In addition, the inclusion of BLOS capabilities into missile systems, robotic systems and other platforms is also being actively explored.

To this end, Gilat has been developing internal capabilities as well as acquiring companies to help the company establish an early presence in this market. Raysat Antenna Systems provides low-profile, in-motion, two-way array antennas for OTM applications at the tactical level with solutions target a wide range of platforms from UAS platforms to tanks. Meanwhile, US-based Wavestream was acquired in 2010, and specializes in the provision of high power solid-state amplifiers for integration into systems including defense satellite communication systems with a focus on Ka- and Ku-band as well as offerings in C- and X-band. Central to the company’s technology is the Spatial Power Advantage, which uses spatially power combined amplifiers to produce high to very-high power at microwave and millimeter-wave frequencies using solid-state technologies such as GaAs and GaN while maintaining small form factors and high efficiencies.

Gilat’s own internal capabilities in satellite modems are also being leveraged with the company developing  a waveform that can handle small antenna in OTM environments. Key features include the ability to work in low SNR environments, small antenna reacquisition capability, the ability to control antenna and fast reacquisition times of less than 1ms. The modems have been developed in small ruggedized form factor to allow their use in platforms such as tanks.

Ku- and Ka-band is the primary focus for these components as Gilat looks to enable OTM capabilities in small, lightweight terminals that can be targeted at small platforms requiring low profile antennas.  The company has complete terminals in operational use on UAS platforms and ground systems. Both mechanical and phased array antennas are offered and the company is also developing fully phased array antennas. Gilat’s current UAS platform terminal weighs 10.5kg and is capable of transmitting 1Mbps of IP-based data. It comprises a ruggedized spread spectrum Gilat satellite modem, a two-way, on-the-move RaySat flat panel tracking antenna and a compact, up to 40W, Ku-band WaveStream block up-converter (BUC) and power amplifier. Moving forwards, the company is looking to develop a next generation terminal featuring a phased array antenna with the aim of halving the size of the terminal.

Setting up stall early should provide Gilat with an early competitive advantage as demand for SOTM/COTM capabilities continues to increase with target markets including the US as well as emerging markets in Asia and Soutn America.

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Asif

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