WASHINGTON — An inflatable antenna on display at the annual Association of the U.S. Army Conference is providing connectivity to civilians and troops responding to hurricanes that have wracked the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico.
Cubic’s GATR antenna, an inflatable radome with a satellite antenna fixture, is providing internet connectivity in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as the island of Vieques, where Cubic’s system is providing connectivity to virtually the whole island, the company said in a press release.
The system is maintaining cellphone signals and internet connections for people in Puerto Rico to power basic services as the island struggles to get back on its feet.
The system is also on the roof of a National Guard building in Puerto Rico and is providing mobile Wi-Fi hot-spot for residents who need to contact family and loved ones.
GATR has been taking its antennae to other hurricane-ravaged spots, such as Houston, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The capability makes a huge difference during disaster responses and is an upgrade over current technology fielded by the military for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, said Jack Arnold, a program manager with Cubic GATR.
“The National Guard or the Army currently has to be able to roll in with a Humvee and a trailer to be able to get [connectivity],” Arnold said. “That’s not the case with this; you could get it there in the back of a small sedan or in a Cessna. The ball itself and the stand, you roll it up and put it in a pack like a sleeping bag.”
The Cubic GATR antenna, which is being used by U.S. special operations forces, among others, markets itself as lightweight and easily transportable. The whole rig can be packed into a case that weighs about 87 pounds, according to a company release.
Once on the ground, it just needs a power source to be up and running.