Boulder, CO, United States

FIRST RF Corporation

www.firstrf.com
Boulder, CO, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.96K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: FIRST RF has teamed with University Research Foundation (URF) and Radiometrics Corporation to develop a passive radiometer-based geolocation system for use with a wide variety of USAF platforms. The system will be comprised of a ruggedized, near-COTS radiometer system by Radiometrics Corporation, augmented with a robust 2-D scanning beamsteering antenna by FIRST RF Corporation and enhanced algorithms by URF which will allow the system to rapidly create a 3D mapping of terrain in the aircrafts vicinity.; BENEFIT: The proposed system will provide at least three important benefits to joint forces operating in conditions where GPS denial/deception is of potential risk: 1. Reduced or possibly zero dependency on the GPS system for geolocation services, allowing navigation in GPS degraded/denied/deceived environments. 2. Capability to provide geolocation services to non-equipped systems due to network-enabled sharing of geolocation data (e.g. as a GPS pseudolite). 3. Increased flight availability/range for equipped fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, even under extreme conditions, due to the ability to sense and avoid airborne icing hazards continuously during takeoff, flight, and landing.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 746.25K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT:Since the first NAVSTAR GPS satellite was launched, GPS has become one of the most important technologies used by modern military and civilian systems. While the legacy GPS constellation continues to provide support for many military applications, there is growing demand to identify and implement systems to enhance the capability of the constellation by ensuring more robust GPS service especially in GPS-denied environments or in regions where service is inconsistent. The next generation of PNT satellite solutions must provide an auxiliary high-gain antenna function for military users in these contested environments. Deployment of this functionality requires demonstration of a space-relevant antenna system capable of providing a steerable high-gain regional military high-gain (RMHG) beam. FIRST RF has developed breakthrough element and feed-network technologies that are applicable to a variety of high-gain antenna topologies which can meet the future needs of this improved GPS function. During Phase II this effort, FIRST RF will optimize, fabricate, and test an electrically-steerable high-gain GPS antenna which will provide up to 14dB of additional gain in the regional beam. In this development, FIRST RF recognizes system integration is a primary challenge and will work with industry and SBIR partners to address integration concerns throughout the program. BENEFIT:The development of electrically steerable high-gain antenna apertures that support either distributed-amplifier or single-amplifier topologies will be an enabling technology for the realization of a regional military high-gain GPS function. The reduced-profile antenna demonstrated by FIRST RF has been shown to be an ideal element for various array topologies (including both direct-radiation and reflector-based architectures). FIRST RFs technologies allow for the array to be deployed from the side of the space vehicle after launch then support an electrically steered beam that can scan across the entire GPS field of view with no moving parts. The maturity of the technologies demonstrated in this proposed antenna system will reduce the risk associated with developing a new payload antenna and decrease the qualification time for the hardware. Furthermore, FIRST RFs technologies have demonstrated the ability to save size, weight, prime power, and cost relative to not only conventional GPS antenna systems, but also other approaches for next-generation applications.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.90K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: In this Phase II effort, FIRST RF proposes a pragmatic approach targeting small UAS systems but easily scalable to meet the demands of any platform. Small tactical aircraft have drag constraints but have challenges of extremely tight payload restrictions, limited internal space and available power. For these platforms, FIRST RF proposes a low profile, multi-band antenna requiring no internal volume and capable of supporting both existing and emerging datalink needs. The approach offers combined advantages of enabling multi-band communication, enhancing datalink range, and extending mission endurance through reduced drag. Simulation and analysis during the Phase I have paved the way for the Phase II proving the design validity of this approach. During the Phase II, two prototype units will be produced for demonstration. BENEFIT: Efficient multiband communications for small tactical airborne platforms will provide advantages by supporting seamless distribution of high quality ISR data directly to the warfighter even in environments with denied or nonexistent communication infrastructure. Low profile antenna solutions that support this mission are an enabling technology that extend time on station and improved link ranges. Commercial and dual-use applications are also present for disaster relief operations where communications infrastructure has been damaged and the ability to immediately establish high quality distribution of information can be invaluable. The CHEESE antenna system will support expanding capabilities in tactical radio systems that currently integrate diversity receiver and transmitter architectures. Future radio architectures utilizing the CHEESE antenna system will be able to support MIMO waveforms and beamforming. These future technology enhancements will greatly improve the range, data rates and A/J performance of tactical data link systems. Recent FIRST RF product releases, field demonstration and testing of diversity aperture combining, MIMO and beamforming technology will be enabled on small UAV platforms with the CHEESE antenna system.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2016

FIRST RF Corporation proposes the development and integration of a low-cost, low-SWaP, Integrated System for Avoidance of Ice-producing Airborne Hazards (ISAIAH). This system will be lightweight (~15 lbs) and draw minimal prime power (less than 100W), but will dramatically widen the window of available operating conditions to Navy and Marine Corps aircraft systems by providing realtime 3D ice hazard detection. The ISAIAH system will be comprised of a ruggedized radiometer system by Radiometrics Corporation, and augmented with a robust 2-D scanning antenna by FIRST RF Corporation, which will allow the system to rapidly create a 3D mapping of supercooled liquid water in the aircrafts vicinity, allowing the pilot to avoid icing and permitting flight in conditions normally precluded because of the danger of icing.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.90K | Year: 2016

"Efficient acquisition, tracking, and discrimination of threatening objects by geographically dispersed sensors are dependent on precise tracking and sensing of missile defense systems. These systems require state-of-the-art radar processing, antennas, and RF systems. The objective, simply stated, is to provide a sensor system with the ability to acquire and track fast moving targets at extended ranges over a wide field of view with extreme angular precision which will enhance the effectiveness of all missile defense systems that rely on accurate and precise tracking data. FIRST RFs has recently fielded low cost, high performance AESA radar sensor systems for ground-based low altitude aircraft detection as well as airborne sense and avoid applications that will enable improved track accuracy radar systems for MDA applications. The approach proposed by FIRST RF uses a unique antenna configuration that provides optimal search speed and tracking accuracy within a pragmatic and cost effective hardware approach. This method uses a combination of apertures that quickly and unambiguously establish a precise target angle and range while using a fast search method."


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 748.65K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: Future SATCOM payload antennas need to provide much greater spot beam control flexibility. Currently deployed systems utilize phased array fed dishes limiting the number of spot beams and gain since earth coverage is accomplished by limiting the number of beamwidths scanned. The solution proposed is a direct illumination phased array that is scaleable for very high gain. Greater than 30 simultaneous beams are supported without substantially increasing the integration complexity of the beamforming network over a single beam phased array. The proposed approach leverages commercially available components but proposes to integrate more devices into a single package for greater function density and board area reduction. During the Phase I program we validated through simulation and test the fundamental building block for this advanced multi-beam phased array for future Ka-band SATCOM payload antennas. Phase II will build on this work through the design and fabrication of a mutli-beam phased array BENEFIT: FIRST RF is proposing a scalable, modular approach to multibeam phased arrays that does not require the cost, size, and complexity of multiple RF manifolds. This leap ahead in phased array technology will be advantageous in all applications for directive array antennas. Applications that will benefit from multiple beams include high data-rate line of sight communications for mobile military forces (ground, air, and sea) where multiple beams can increase frequency re-use and network capacity and multi-beam radars. Multi-function wideband arrays are also being developed to simultaneously support communications, electronic support, and electronic attack functions. A lightweight, cost-effective means for providing multiple beams will significantly increase the capability of those systems and increase the flexibility of platform integration. Commercial MIMO and smart antenna communications networks will benefit from a low cost multi-beam array by increasing communications capacity and range in complex environments.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.95K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT:Multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) RF systems are revolutionizing the RF communications industry by transforming historically problematic, heavily faded RF environments into rich, multi-channel media data rates enhanced by factors of 2-4X or more. Although the air-air datalink scenario does not enjoy the rich multipath environments that are exploited by commercial and military MIMO systems, many of the salient features of MIMO can be applied to airborne directional datalink systems to great effect. In this program, we investigate three MIMO-related enhancements that are applicable to any distributed aperture airborne data link system. The three techniques to be studied include orthogonal polarization in the Tx/Rx antenna to upgrade link capacity, utilization of multiple antenna arrays in receive mode, and inclusion of a novel fast-search methodology to reduce discovery time. Numerous existing directional datalink systems incorporate multiple high-gain antenna arrays which provide a strong base for significant MIMO-inspired capability enhancements with the introduction of the proposed applique. All three of our proposed concepts have great potential to enhance the capacity, robustness, and other performance aspects of legacy distributed datalink systems without requiring changes to the current radio or waveform.BENEFIT:Although FIRST RFs proposed investigation is focused on legacy airborne datalinks, the technology has direct applicability to other applications that utilize distributed antennas. These technologies provide a path to improve ground tactical systems as well. The system provides several key benefits including increased (ideally double) link capacity and data rates to support larger networks and greater throughput for ISR, heavily cooperative, and other data-intensive missions. Elegant signal combination results in a more robust system that achieves improved signal-strength links without dropouts as nodes change in bearing with one another (switch loss). A fast, LPI/LPD, ad-hoc in-flight network reconfiguration is achieved using a novel discovery approach improving reassignments and other reconfiguration requirements imposed by the mission. With these potential benefits, the applicability of this technology extends beyond the scope of airborne directional datalink systems and has other military as well as commercial applications. FIRST RF looks forward to working with Air Force to explore the applicability of this technology to the near-term need for datalink missions.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Special Operations Command | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015

In this Phase I effort, FIRST RF will develop and evaluate concepts for advanced Surface Search Phased Array radar systems that will be integrated on Naval Special Warfare Combatant-Craft. A phased array system allows for dynamic beam steering with graceful degradation and eliminates the need for mechanical pointing of the antenna aperture. The FIRST RF SSPA radar system will detect, locate, track, and display the speed and bearing of maritime objects of interest. In addition to providing a robust mechanical solution for exceptional reliability, the proposed SSPA radar system will bring cutting edge phased array capabilities to combatant-craft missions. FIRST RF proposes an innovative approach that leverages state-of-the-art phased array architecture to provide a highly functional SSPA radar system. Commercial applications of this technology have also been identified.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 499.98K | Year: 2015

In this Phase II effort, FIRST RF will demonstrate array technology enabling highly directive multi-beam TCDL communications using phased arrays integrated on the Fire Scout UAV platform. Phased array systems allow for dynamic beam steering with graceful degradation. These arrays also have the benefit of a narrow azimuth radiation pattern conducive to point-to-point communications and networking waveforms. The system will allow the Fire Scout and other UAV platforms to augment fleet communications by increasing inter-platform connectivity between airborne assets, surface ships, and expeditionary forces. FIRST RF proposes an innovative approach that leverages innovative phased array architecture to provide a highly functional TCDL communications node with multi-beam capability. Commercial applications of this technology have also been identified.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.96K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: The current lack of a simple, low-cost, and high bandwidth communication system on C2ISR (Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) aircraft prevents the Air Force from realizing the full capability of its airborne reconnaissance and surveillance assets. The synergy between different sensor platforms will provide enhanced battlefield awareness as well as enhanced net-centric, collaborative targeting. Until now, the upgrade cost and complexity has prevented the Air Force from fielding a long-term, adequate solution. FIRST RF proposes an innovative multi-band antenna system that provides a rapid response to the Air Forces needs by utilizing existing antenna mounting locations. Furthermore, FIRST RFs solution will supplement, not remove the existing antenna functionality. The additional antenna bands provided can then enable a solution that is tailored to the current situations demands. The Phase II program will demonstrate FIRST RFs unique ability to develop a solution without sacrificing cost or schedule. BENEFIT: The multi-band antenna system proposed by FIRST RF will enable rapid communication between various C2ISR aircraft. The synergy between different sensor platforms will provide enhanced battlefield awareness as well as enhanced net-centric, collaborative targeting. By designing the system to use existing antennas mounting locations, these benefits can be realized with minimal cost to the war fighter.

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