FLEXCOM (FLEXible phased array system for sat-COM applications) aims at building a new class of phased arrays technology for airborne, spaceborne, and Earth segment satellite communications with an unpreceded level of flexibility and reconfigurability. Precisely, FLEXCOM will deliver a highly integrated antenna tile conceived to be the building block through which several SatCom antenna types can be built. The FLEXCOM tiles are designed to be used in different scenarios and for different applications, responding to the needs of a continuously evolving SatCom market and enforcing a significant reduction of life-cycle costs.

The developed tiles will provide:

  • Broadband TX/RX operations at K/Ka-band in a single radiating aperture;
  • Possibility to adopt two different beamforming cores, namely Hybrid Analog/Digital beamforming or, for the first time for K-Ka SatCom applications, fully-digital beamforming with direct conversion;
  • Electronic steering, multibeam and smart antennas functionalities.

FLEXCOM will develop and integrate into each tile the following beyond the state-of-the-art subsystems:

TX/RX K/Ka band Analog Front Ends (AFE) based on multicore SiGeBiCMOS RFICs, including phase shifters and down conversion stages;

  • A Digital Beamforming processor dedicated to SatCom applications;
  • Dual-band radiating apertures covering K/Ka SatCom and 5G bands.

The FLEXCOM technology will be demonstrated by building and testing three prototypes relevant to real use cases:

  • a prototype for the Internet of Things and Machine to Machine applications;
  • a conformal integrated on a UAV platform;
  • a feed for a transmit array, intended for High Altitude Platform application.

FLEXCOM will contribute to the development of the European research and technology ecosystem combining in the consortium, a robust industrial partnership covering both the SatCom (THALES and TTI) and the 5G network (NOKIA and SIAE) area as well as key players in the supply chain (TE2V, ANTECNICA, and EVATRONIX). This partnership will include two academic institutions (CNIT-UNICAL, ULM) and a research center (IHP).