Redwire Making Critical Investments to Develop 4th Generation Link-16 Antenna

As a leading developer of advanced antenna systems for military and industry customers, Redwire is continuously advancing these critical technologies. In 2022, Redwire began focusing internal research and development on adding multi-beam Link-16 capability to meet customer needs. Link-16 is a military tactical data link network designed to provide warfighters operating on land, in the air and at sea with secure, anti-jam Line-of-Sight communications. Redwire’s 4th generation Link-16 antenna recently passed a critical milestone by showing the system can meet a beam coverage ground footprint that is 50% larger than the latest technology available on the market today, while still meeting critical connectivity requirements.   Most recently, Redwire was able to also demonstrate variable coverage capability while maintaining interfaces to legacy space link-16 radios.  

The enhanced beam coverage provided by the 4th Generation Link-16 system is achieved through the use of active beam management.  The addition of simultaneous multi-beam capability allows us to connect with multiple theatres across larger geographical areas. A critical feature of this 4th generation Link-16 antenna technology is that it can leverage the same radios and radio interfaces as the existing space-based Link-16 radios.  Complex re-certifications of the radio or antenna system are not required. Redwire can manufacture this antenna at lower costs than other, more complex phased arrays.


In January 2022, Redwire successfully delivered an L-Band Link-16 Helical Antenna system for an undisclosed national security customer (Credit: Redwire).

In addition to technology investments, Redwire is also expanding its capability to manufacture, deliver, and test various kinds of antennas across the frequency range.  To address the challenges with payload RF antenna testing and the unique antenna test requirements for a recently awarded program, Redwire is developing an advanced, first-of-its-kind RF test capability: a custom RF test chamber that will fit ESPA-class buses with fully-deployed antennas. The Redwire In-House Broadband Far-Field Anechoic Chamber is a game-changing “near-field spherical arch” chamber that allows the antennas to remain upright while the antenna probe moves around it in a gravity-neutral environment. The chamber allows large, low frequency or deployable antennas and structures to be tested installed onto ESPA-class buses. The testing chamber will enable installed antenna, high power, cosite, and emissions testing. Redwire has contracted with testing experts ETS-Lindgrin to design and build the testing chamber.


A rendering of a two-meter antenna being tested in the Redwire In-House Broadband Far-Field Anechoic Chamber (Credit: ETS-Lindgrin).

This brand-new capability will be available to partners and customers in August of 2023 to coincide with EDU development and delivery for the recently awarded program with low frequency, UHF antenna needs.  The chamber will be housed in a new facility dedicated to antenna manufacturing and development in Longmont, CO​. The chamber will be a critical resource for partners and customers to validate the performance of antennas and payloads​.

Learn more about Redwire’s work manufacturing Link-16 antennas here.

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