The AGILe Information Transfer abilitY – AGILITY on-the-move satellite terminal was developed by BAE Systems, in partnership with Roke Manor Research and QinetiQ. Utilizing electronically beam-steered antenna packed into a 40 cm sphere, the static antenna offers full hemispheric coverage and high bandwidth. The system offers secure and assured satellite communications (satcom) to-and-from land vehicles, aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and naval vessels. The system has near instant deployment and satellite acquisition times. It automatically tracks the satellite, by implementing platform motion compensation.
The antenna structure is based upon a modified dodecahedron comprising 40 identical triangular tiles, each of which contains six cross-dipole elements. This design approach provides a high proportion of active elements for any steer direction. The modular tile concept enables reconfiguration to meet semi-conformal applications for aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles. Beamforming and steering are performed at element level using custom MMIC (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit) devices specifically designed for AGILITY. These act as digitally controlled phase shifters, as well as providing an LNA (Low Noise Amplifier) on receive and PA (Power Amplifier) on transmit.
For communications on the move, an on-board inertial navigation sensor provides real-time measurements of the vehicle attitude and heading. These are used to calculate a beam pointing angle that compensates for the vehicle orientation. From this, the phase data is calculated and distributed to the MMICs on each tile. This operation is conducted over 20 times per second to providing agile beam steering. The system is expected to be ready for fielding by 2004.