Article source: Remcom
Successful integration of an antenna onto a vehicle platform poses many challenges. Vehicle features impact antenna performance by blocking, reflecting or reradiating energy, and co-site interference can impair the effectiveness of multi-antenna configurations. Platform motion and environmental factors such as terrain and buildings may reduce system effectiveness in actual op
erational conditions. Furthermore, radiation hazards may pose risks to nearby personnel. Modeling and simulation provides a powerful tool to aid in understanding these issues and developing solutions. This article provides a variety of examples of simulation-based assessments used to analyze antenna performance, identify problems, and evaluate potential solutions.
The key benefit of simulation-based assessment is that it is relatively fast and cost-effective compared to physical system modification and measurement. The lead times and costs associated with scheduling measurements in an anechoic chamber or at an outdoor test facility sometimes strain schedules and budgets. Modeling and simulation can assess options and tradeoffs in order to select a small number of planned approaches well before any physical testing occurs; as a result, experimental design focuses on verifying planned approaches and fine-tuning alternatives demonstrated to be effective in simulations. This approach reduces the risk of encountering problems that require retesting, costly redesign or introduce dangerous in-theater behavior.
In addition, a number of challenges arise when attempting to perform exhaustive laboratory or field testing on an integrated system. Some potential issues include:
- Available measurement facilities may not be able to accommodate larger platforms
- Facilities may not be able to handle the full range of frequencies for the system(s) under test
- Comprehensive in situ measurements may be difficult or impractical for operational conditions (e.g., aircraft in flight or a HMMWV in an urban environment)
- In-theater modifications could require additional testing
A comprehensive modeling and simulation toolset allows an organization to overcome these challenges by being able to simulate any number of conditions, identify and resolve key issues, and reserve the use of physical measurements to confirm successful pre-test, simulation-based assessments. The remainder of this article provides several examples demonstrating typical simulation-based assessments to identify and resolve issues related to antenna performance and integration onto vehicles.