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Tactical antennas go lightweight

News International-French

16 Aug 2016

A conductive composites success story

Conductive Composites Company (CCC) has partnered with Antenna Products and North Fork Composites to develop an extremely light weight, tactical antenna utilizing their game-changing nickel coated fibers. The thin-film and nano-enabled conductive technology outperforms metal antennas at one-third the weight while offering easy in-the-field assembly and portability. The composite construction offers superior strength, stiffness and corrosion resistance versus metal antennas  without a significant increase in price.

PROBLEM: Weight vs. Performance
Log periodic antennas are a complex arrangement of elements that looks like fish skeletons which are made up of a central boom with a number of elements that extend out from the boom in pairs. An antenna with more elements has higher gain but is also longer and heavier. Antennas are often needed in tactical situations and must be assembled, deployed, and disasembled in remote locations by a limited number of individuals. Thus, tactical antenna design is a balance between an attempt to achieve the most gain for the length and weight that best fits the application. Until recently, tactical communications that have high gain and provide a broad frequency range have been heavy, sacrificing weight for performance requirements. High bandwidth tactical antennas are typically unwieldy, time consuming to construct, difficult to deploy, and expensive.

“With tactical antennas, the problem is weight. Typical aluminum antennas are hard to manipulate, even bowing in the middle when you assemble it because of the weight.”

Tactical antenna


SOLUTION: Lightweight Performance
Conductive Composites’ ability to utilize lightweight materials and make them conductive provides a solution to the issues associated with using metal for antenna construction. Through a unique and proprietary Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process, CCC’s materials integrate conductivity as part of a multifunctional materials system while preserving the basic weight, cost, structural, environmental, and manufacturing performance advantages of composites and plastics. The thickness of the coating is tailored to fit the required conductivity. Once the material has been coated it is rolled into thin, strong tubes that fit together with precise tolerances. These new antennas meet or exceed the performance of metal antennas at a fraction of the weight. Instead of requiring two people to assemble and move it, now one person can easily do the job. At one-third the weight, the new antennas open up more deployment options. Because of the weight reduction, it doesn’t need the same weight of structure to support it so the boom and mast can be lighter as well. Additionally, the strength and stiffness of the carbon fiber increases resistance to wind and ice loading and makes the antenna corrosion-immune, even in aluminum-unfriendly seawater environments, extreme temperatures and other harsh conditions common to tactical operations. Lightweight, high performance, easy to assemble and transport – Conductive  Composites technology is advancing antenna options and capabilities.

“The ease of use with this antenna is incredible, which is a big plus during tactical deployments where rapid set-up and breakdown are important”