Our aerostat antennas are optimized for lighter-than-air platforms. They are fielded today on the Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS) and the Persistent Ground Surveillance System (PGSS) aerostats.
The Army is using "RF-over-fiber” technology with both heritage and new radios to implement an aerial layer of aerostat-based communications in Afghanistan. Other applications of the same technology can decrease the risk of electronic detection of command posts (CP); reduce the threat to communication personnel and costly radio/crypto equipment; decrease CP set-up time; enable radio-antenna configurations that are otherwise impossible; and lower maintenance response times. The physics of relevant electro-optic components are introduced. System building blocks are introduced (e.g., lasers; detectors; optical fibers, connectors, circulators, splitters, amplifiers). System design examples are presented for specific tactical radios. The tutorial concludes with a discussion of system design issues for an aerial layer of communications relays.