KA-Band Antenna Demonstrates Wideband Data Links

ThinKom Solutions has completed in-flight connectivity trials of its ThinAir Ka2517 phased-array antenna mounted on the Proteus high-altitude long-endurance aircraft. The Proteus satellite data communication package was developed as a joint effort involving ThinKom, Inmarsat Government and Scaled Composites. The trials included initial tests in Chantilly, Virginia and the Mojave Air and Space Port, California, culminating in a series of demo flights at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.


The ThinAir antenna delivered a 25 Mbps return link and a 5 Mbps forward link operating at over 50,000 feet altitude through an Inmarsat Global Xpress Ka-band satellite in geostationary orbit. The phased array maintained connectivity to the satellite each flight, including during take offs, in-flight maneuvers and landings. Further, the ThinAir antenna was able to send the full 25 Mbps from the aircraft at an elevation angle of 25°, while providing data rates of 12 Mbps at elevation angles as low as 15°.

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 ThinKom supplied the Ka2517 phased-array antenna in a low-profile 7.8-inch high radome, along with an adaptor plate, antenna controller and transceiver electronics. Scaled Composites designed and built a custom fairing to mount the radome on the aircraft’s fuselage and integrated the ThinKom system with the payload on the aircraft.


Inmarsat Government developed and provided the system’s modem manager, PRO-MODMAN, designed specifically for the Ka2517 to operate on Inmarsat Global Xpress Ka-band steerable beams. The PRO-MODMAN integrates the capability of a DVB S2X modem with the flexibility of an OpenAMIP configurable system controller. For more flights of intelligence, visit ThinKom Solutions, Scaled Composites, and Inmarsat plc

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