Dyneema® Crystal Technology and the Future of the Radome
In securing the homeland, countless minute details are easily overlooked or underestimated; important details that save lives, time, and resources. One such detail is the radome—a radar antennae covering, which protects expensive and critical radar antennae systems used for communications with military vehicles, weather tracking radar, and telecommunications, among others.
Dyneema, a division within DSM, global science-based company, is well known for its ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHWMPE) fiber that is used in life and product protection materials and high-performance fibers. Specifically, it is Dyneema Crystal Technology that is used in the production of the company’s radomes.
There are two critical aspects for a radome, the dielectric constant and the loss tangent. Dr. Cheryl Corallo, New Business Development Manager at DSM Dyneema, told Homeland Security Today that, “Dyneema [Crystal Technology] performs with a lower dielectric constant and a loss tangent so low that it is difficult to measure.”
A low dielectric constant and low loss tangent means that signals directed to radar antennae, equipped with a Dyneema Crystal Technology radome, are hardly changed or reduced after passing through the radome itself. Dyneema Crystal Technology outperforms the standard industry materials used in radome development, such as quartz, the gold-standard.
“One key advantange of Dyneema [Crystal Technology] is that our performance remains the same in terms of not absorbing the signal, not reflecting the signal, but letting it pass through, and for Dyneema [Crystal Technology] that remains the same over a broad range of frequencies and that is very unusual,” noted Dr. Corallo. “Typically, for materials that have been used for years in the industry, you have to design your radome specifically for the particular frequencies that you are operating at."
Recently, DSM Dyneema announced a new partnership with Airborne International to produce durable, lightweight next-generation radomes. Their initial customer, Pro Patria Electronices will equip its PGSR-3iFT Beagle Tower with Dyneema Crystal Technology and be used to identify, track, and classify ground targets.
“Airborne International is an important player here, in the Netherlands. We have selected them as a partner for many reasons, proximity is one but also their high-end qualities in making complicated parts and shapes,” stated New Business Development Manager, Danielle Petra.
Currently, radomes equipped with Dyneema Crystal Technology are not in use on the battlefield, but evaluations are underway. Dyneema technology is currently in use for other applications, like for vehicles and body armor.
“We have a very strong and long history in life protection, both for personal ballistic protection and hard armor systems of vehicles,” said Dr. Corallo. “The Dyneema Crystal technology can also be made ballistic. For example, if you have a radome produced of Dyneema Crystal Technology on your military vehicle and you are in a situation where your antennae or radar could be destroyed, Dyneema is there to protect that sensitive equipment.”