Satellite communication are now offering European and Global wide band data services in the Ka-Band frequencies for a high rate two-way mobile satellite communication link. This new trend reflects into more stringent radome requirements necessary to balance robustness, electrical performances at Ka Band. Radome design and development at such frequencies asks for innovative investigation in terms of material selection and design techniques.
Standard multilayer radome design at Ka band (and Ku/Ka band) could suffer the shortcoming of a reduced mechanical performance due to the small thickness of the layers involved in the layup.
Such thickness reduction is related to the shorter wavelength involved at Ka Band, thus typical sandwich stratifications would not have the necessary mechanical robustness to withstand the mobile environment, therefore, more complex layup solutions need to be considered.
In the latter case, a solution has been considered and aimed to provide the minimum required stiffness and mechanical strength, but the reduced thickness of the materials involved stays small and special attention has to be paid for both the tolerances and the technological process. A very interesting design solution, first at sample level, has been found by TeS aimed to the realization of a dual band Ku/Ka band maritime radome able to provide good electrical and mechanical performance while maintaining acceptable the overall manufacturing costs.
The multiband Ku Ka band radome solution has been then selected, among the proposed solutions, as the candidate one for the Engineering Model (EM) development of this research study. The EM radome has been verified during a detailed design phase, approved in the CDR meeting and then developed according to the identified manufacturing process. The final test on the EM radome has confirmed very good performance and the validity of the experimental results already achieved at sample level. One of the most important outcome in this Ku/Ka multilayer solution is the understanding of complex unwanted phenomena (occurred during the manufacturing process) that otherwise degrade significantly the radome performance if suitable countermeasures are not taken.
The possibility of a proper diagnostic on the manufactured radome samples and the electrical model retuning of these, allow the radome designer to refine the very first layup stratification to finally match the wanted electrical performance.