ThinKom delivers Ka satcom systems for US E-4B aircraft

ThinKom Solutions, Inc. announced it has delivered its next-generation Ka-band aeronautical satellite antenna systems for the U.S. government’s E-4B National Airborne Operations Center aircraft.

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 decision to rely on ThinKom’s new Ka-band system for this mission-critical application is an important validation of the reliability and performance of our superior technology solution,” said ThinKom Director of Sales, Greg Otto. “The product is fully compatible with both commercial and government Ka-band services. We are already engaged with leading inflight entertainment and connectivity service providers, and we expect to see a significant number of deployments in the commercial aviation sector.”

“The future is built into this next-generation antenna system. Its hybrid GEO/LEO capability means it will be fully compatible with the new low-orbit Ka-band satellite networks expected to proliferate in the next few years, as well as high-throughput GEO satellites,” Otto added.

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.