Military antennas and CNHF Manpack – how to choose the right antenna for a cognitive HF radio?

KNL is on a mission to provide cutting-edge radio technology that continues to work when other solutions have reached their limit. We aim to provide the best overall solution for our clients in the defence and military sector, including advanced radio technology, robust equipment and fastly installed military antennas for VHF/HF communication.

Choosing the right antenna is crucial for effective communication, especially in military operations where reliability is paramount. The wrong military antenna can compromise signal quality, create interference, and leave communication vulnerable to interception or disruption. However, due to their advanced ability to constantly monitor conditions and adapt to the environment, cognitive radios make antenna selection less critical. This adaptability opens up opportunities for enhanced signal clarity, secure transmission, and maximised range, even in challenging environments. KNL’s software-defined cognitive radios ensure seamless connectivity and provide a significant advantage over traditional systems.

In this article, we’ll discuss the factors influencing the selection of a military antenna and highlight the HF military antennas we at KNL can offer for our radios, tailored to various use cases.

Read also: KNL’s CNHF Manpack radio – the new standard for operational communications

Built-in antenna tuner simplifies the deployment of CNHF Manpack

Radio systems are relatively complex and must always be customised to fit their operating environment. For example, HF military antennas typically require quite a lot of tuning to achieve optimal performance and effective signal transmission. In many traditional HF radios, this process requires a separate component, such as an external antenna tuner unit. These tuner units can be relatively bulky and require additional setup and maintenance, complicating field operations.

To simplify this process, our CNHF Manpack includes a built-in antenna tuner, making deployment easier and speeding up possible changes for military antennas.

Thanks to the technical solutions in the CNHF Manpack, our system can adapt to less-than-optimal antenna conditions and compensate for any deficiencies. As a result, antenna installation in the CNHF Manpack is less critical in establishing a high-quality connection than it is with many traditional HF radios.

Also changing the military antenna (HF/VHF, HF or VHF) for CNHF Manpack is straightforward as there is one connection point to the antenna, like traditional radios in this frequency range.

Read also: KNL radios deliver on the promise of HF renaissance

Our advanced cognitive radio technology and software ensure that, unlike traditional HF radios, installing tactical or military HF antennas does not critically determine our radios’ connection quality and reliability.

Using CNHF Manpack with loop antennas for vehicle and marine operations

KNL’s CNHF Manpack also includes RS-485 serial communication ports, which can be used to control external devices. These external devices may consist of separate antenna tuners or power amplifiers.

In our radios, the RS-485 serial communication port can be utilised to control, for example, the Comrod HF230L-OTM Loop antenna, with established support built into the radio software.

Read also: KNL’s strategy for software-defined radios

Loop antennas are known for their compact size, making them ideal for space-constrained environments. Depending on the type of loop antenna, they can operate effectively over several frequency ranges, enhancing their suitability for diverse applications. In military settings, loop antennas are highly valued for their low visibility and robust performance, making them suitable for use on various mobile platforms where discreet communication is essential.

CNHF Manpack is compatible with different types of military antennas – we help to find the right one

The choice of an antenna is primarily determined by its intended use and the environment in which the equipment will operate. These factors dictate the military antenna’s type, size, and performance requirements.

KNL’s CNHF Manpack is compatible with all common military HF and VHF antennas. When choosing the appropriate antenna for our product, the intended use cases help refine the options:

  • The tactical patrol antenna is the ideal choice when manpacks are intended for patrolling.
  • If the radio is primarily used as a base station, the appropriate antenna is a base station antenna designed for fixed installations.
  • For vehicle operations, the optimal antennas for manpacks are those designed for mounting on vehicles, such as whip and loop antennas.

If you’re considering the compatibility of your current military antennas with our products, contact us!

Featuring LTE modem and GNSS receiver with antenna connectivity

KNL radios are primarily used for communication over HF or VHF frequency bands, allowing messaging between radios over distances of thousands of kilometres. Additionally, our radios support mobile connectivity through built-in LTE modems and GNSS receivers. The LTE modem and GNSS receiver primarily use the built-in military antennas of the CNHF Manpack, but the radio also features connectors for external LTE and GNSS antennas.

For instance, when using the CNHF Manpack inside a building or vehicle, mobile connectivity can be enabled through an external antenna, thanks to the integrated LTE antenna connector. This allows the vehicle’s LTE antenna to be used with the manpack.

The same applies to the GNSS receiver. If the radio is used indoors or in a vehicle, an external GNSS antenna can be connected to allow location data to be utilised even when the built-in antenna is not functional. The CNHF Manpack can accommodate external LTE and GNSS antennas suitable for various use cases, whether for base station use or for vehicles and vessels.

A remote connection to the radio can be established via the mobile network, providing access to the radio’s user interface through a web browser. With the LTE transceiver, the CNHF Manpack can be connected wirelessly to transmit data from HF radios through the mobile network to another server or external network. The GNSS receiver, in turn, can be utilised for applications such as blue force tracking, navigation, and logistics management.

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Military antennas and CNHF Manpack

Easy-to-use HF military antennas with fast installation

To make the deployment of our radios even easier, we offer our customers durable and easy-to-install military antennas for patrol and base station use.

Low-power HF patrol antenna

Our low-power HF patrol antenna is a lightweight, portable military antenna designed for challenging conditions. It is compatible with the HF frequency range of CNHF Manpack. The antenna design has paid special attention to durability of connections and stakes.

The wideband dipole-style military HF patrol antenna can be easily tuned for use in the field. It should be hung from the central balun at a height of 3–6 metres, using trees, masts, or other similar structures for support. The antenna is connected to the radio with a coaxial cable.

Applications of our military HF patrol antenna:

  • Tactical use
  • Manpack HF communication
  • Portable HF communication
Low-power HF patrol antenna

Low-power HF patrol antenna

Wideband HF base station military antenna

Our wideband HF base station antenna has robust construction for fixed/semi-fixed base station use. The installation and use of this HF military antenna are extremely easily trained to end-users.

In the HF range, it is crucial to understand how electromagnetic radiation produced by antennas travels. Does HF propagate along the ground, or does it reflect or refract back to Earth from the ionosphere? Between these methods is the “skip zone,” an area where ground waves don’t travel far enough and skywave signals reflect too far.

Our wideband HF base station antenna can be optimised for skip zone and NVIS use to address the communication gap when installed in horizontal or inverted V configurations.

Applications of our wide band HF base station military antenna:

  • HF NVIS communications
  • Wideband HF communications
  • Fixed HF base stations

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Wideband HF base station military antenna

Wideband HF base station antenna

Support for integrating military antenna setups

Although our customers usually define the type of antenna setup for their equipment, we collaborate closely to assist with a successful setup and technical compatibility of military antennas and our equipment.

Together with our customers and potential partners, we ensure that:

  • The desired antenna’s frequency range is correct (HF/VHF)
  • The antenna is suitable for the operating environment (e.g. vehicle use/base station) and can withstand environmental conditions (e.g. temperature fluctuations)
  • The antenna’s performance is sufficient for our radios’ frequency range (how well it can transmit and receive signals)
  • The impedance between the antenna and the radio device is compatible, ensuring optimised signal transmission

While cognitive radios can autonomously optimise their performance and antenna matching precision is less critical, proper setup of military antennas is still essential.

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