December 1, 2021

Spotlight on high frequency solutions

High frequency solutions have been a core part of the RFS portfolio for many years. As the defense industry starts to gravitate away from satellite communications, and back to high frequency, Mark Ward, Director Global Defence and Services at RFS explores the latest trends and how this technology will evolve in the next few years.

Mark Ward, Director Global Defence and Services

Can you give us an overview where RFS sits in the space?

Of course, so RFS has quite a unique position as we don’t only make high frequency antennas but are also able to provide the feeder cables meaning we can deliver an overall solution, rather than just a single part of it. The solutions have a range of use cases in aviation and defense and especially as, over the past few years, we’ve seen that satellite communication systems aren’t impervious to disruption; we’re seeing a renewed interest in HF technologies that were commonplace say 30 years ago. Those original systems now need to be replaced and RFS has the expertise in how to look after legacy systems while bringing the latest in new HF technologies to the table making us a valuable resource for our customers. 

You mentioned the newer trends in HF technologies, can you tell us a little more about that?

So, one of the key features of new generation HF solutions is that the new design antenna systems can be formed into arrays. The benefit of this is that they can increase the gain from a particular network meaning there is less reliance on an individual antenna and giving a more robust solution. The transmitted signal can be spread across a variety of antennas giving us the ability to steer beams, focusing the coverage in a particular area where we want to create the link. These technologies have been evolving over the last two decades as improvements have been made in signal processing and link establishment and now of course the change from analogue to digital transmission. Those steps forward mean we’re now able to match our new antenna systems to the additional capabilities that software defined radios systems make available ensuring that HF systems keep pace and benefit from the leaps forward being made in the wider wireless communications space. 

You also said that these solutions have use cases in the aviation industry, can you give an example? 

Definitely, we’re seeing more applications for our HF solutions with civil aviation deployments across the globe. So, a great example of where HF solutions are a real asset would be in somewhere like India which has flourishing regional airport growth strategy. The focus of transport infrastructure investment is airports, and they need communications infrastructure to support this as many of the routes will carry passengers over the Bay of Bengal and out to the Maldives and into other locations in the region. Projects like this need long distance communication technologies and we know there are a number of similar projects across the globe that will also need futureproof, reliable HF systems. 

What do the next few years hold in terms of innovation with RFS’s high frequency solutions?

The big trend we see in the industry is the combining of HF and radar technologies into a single solution. Previously the two had been entirely separate however, we’re suggesting a new antenna design, and new approach to the way a number of antennas can be arrayed so it is possible to combine the functionality of the communications network and a radar network together in one piece of infrastructure. There several really significant benefits to this approach, it reduces site footprints, it means only a single infrastructure system is needed making it less expensive and more versatile. It’ll be an exciting development in the defense industry and one we’re looking forward to realizing with our customers. 

If you’d like to hear more about RFS’s HF solutions, please get in touch with Mark Ward, Director Global Defence and Services at RFS.