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Large apertures are of great benefit to applications that are prime powered limited as is found on aerostat and other airborne platforms. Electronically scanned array antennas are often proposed for these applications. However, increasing the aperture area with conventional array technology is met with prohibitive cost, weight, and prime power increases because of the dense spacing of phase shifters and/or active T/R modules. This discusses the recent development of RF MEMS (Microelectromechanical System) switch technology and the use of these switches in a Radanttrade lens configuration for arrays of approximately 10 m2 at X-band. A proof-of-concept 0.4 m2 MEMS Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) containing 25,000 MEMS switches has been successfully designed, fabricated, and tested. The 0.4 m2 MEMS ESA was then integrated with an AN/APG-67 radar system to form the MEMS Demonstration Radar System. The MEMS Demonstration Radar System successfully detected both airborne and ground moving targets during a series of extensive radar demonstrations. This is believed to be the first large scale employment of MEMS switches in a scanning antenna and radar system. The low-cost, lightweight, and low power technology demonstrated can enable weight and power constrained platforms with electronic steering.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2007