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AOC 2011 Wrap Up - 48th Year of the Crow

November 20, 2011
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The Annual AOC International Symposium and Convention for the EW and IO community took place in Washington DC last week. More than 1,300 attendees were expected from government, military, industry and academia for more than 40 cutting-edge education presentations, panel discussions, inspiring general session speakers, exhibits and networking opportunities. This is one of the few shows that really takes networking seriously with ample opportunities to converse over drinks, dessert and even dinner right on the show floor. They close the exhibition at many of the time periods where attendees are in sessions and then open them for time periods where the sessions are closed. They also are truly international with representatives from militaries all over the world.

While the exhibition is not large, it contains all the key players it the EW market for systems along with all the supporting software, hardware and test system companies. The emphasis is on very wideband systems, faster acquisition and processing, larger memory, improved SWaP and inference prevention. As with other shows we attend, we surveyed the exhibition and visited as many microwave companies as we could in our time on site. Here are the product highlights we saw at the show:

Active Spectrum was showing its low-loss, tunable filter modules in the 225 to 6000 MHz bands, using a proprietary tunable resonator to implement a filter with wideband tuning, low insertion loss (1 dB) and high power handling (over 20 W). The tunable filters show significantly improved insertion loss, linearity and static power consumption compared to varactor or PIN diode tuned filter modules.

Aethercomm was highlighting their GaN amplifiers such as Model Number SSPA 0.020-6.000-35 which is a high power, super broadband, amplifier that operates from 20 to 6000 MHz. This PA is ideal for broadband military platforms as well as commercial applications because it is robust and offers high power over a multi-decade bandwidth with decent power added efficiency. This amplifier has a typical P3dB between 35 to 50 watts at room temperature. Noise figure at room temperature is 12.0 dB typical. This amplifier offers a typical gain of 49 dB with a typical gain flatness of ± 4.0 dB. The power and gain flatness across the band is extremely flat for the bandwidth.

Aeroflex was showing off its 2200 family of OEM modular frequency synthesizers operating from 10 MHz to 18.4 GHz and offers sub-microsecond frequency switching speed and sub-microsecond level correction, coupled with excellent spectral purity.

Agilent received an interesting award at the show from the country of Estonia. The thank you gift from the “Military Intelligence Battalion of Estonian Defense Forces” was for being a valued test partner. It was delivered by a member of their army and they were the only vendor at the show to receive a gift from them.

Agilent showed off its family of handheld spectrum analyzers, including the 7 GHz N9342C and the new 20 GHz N9344C. Also featured were their Fieldfox handheld RF analyzers: the 4/6-GHz RF analyzer with cable and antenna tester and spectrum analyzer, and the 4/6-GHz vector network analyzer.

Anritsu was showing off their measurement of Radar Cross Section (RCS) using the VNA Master handheld VNA. It is ideal for flight line measurement of an aircraft’s RCS prior to take-off to verify that it is within specification for its mission. They have an application note that describes how to easily measure RCS with this setup and were demonstrating it in the booth.

Cobham was displaying several subsystem and system solutions for EW and related systems from antennas to components to subsystems. They also offer many high performance receivers for SIGINT applications and other EW systems.

CPI (Beverly Microwave Division) is now building L- and S-Band GaN transistors in addition to their traditional TWT devices. The L-Band SSPAs are 500 W CW devices that can be power combined up to 10 kW and operate at 50 V. The S-Band SSPAs are available in 1 kW pulsed modules or power combined into modules up to 20 kW and operate at 30 V.

EM Research was featuring a fast switching, low phase noise, fine steps frequency synthesizer (SBC Series). The 3000 series operates from 400 to 3000 MHz with phase noise of -100 dBc/Hz @ 10 kHz, the 5000 series operates from 700 to 5000 Hz and 8000 series operating from 5000 to 8000 MHz both with phase noise of -95 dBc @ 10 kHz.

Gigatronics was showing off their PXI microwave power amplifier operating from 100 MHz to 20 GHz with 0.5 W output power. The amplifiers provide excellent pulse fidelity, low intermodulation distortion, high linearity and excellent gain flatness without the warm-up time, drift or aging issues of traveling wave tube amplifiers (TWTA). They feature low noise figure, low harmonics and spurious content, and are highly tolerant to load mismatch.

Mega Phase was featuring many of their interconnect solution such as airborne EW, Missiles and Space through Ka-Band solutions including Phase3™, GrooveTube® 1 & 2 series, NextPhase™, Semi-rigid, and build-to print designs. There feature vibration, radiation, MIL-STD-810 and other survivability data available upon request.

Mercury Computer Systems introduced the FM021814 digital frequency discriminator (DFD) with phase modulation on pulse (PMOP) detection at AOC. This detector blends the ability to generate phase and frequency information data streams, providing highly reliable and accurate information instantaneously. Mercury's Microwave and Digital Solutions group is a leader in software-defined, Application Ready Subsystems that detect, deceive and defeat hostile signals on land, at sea and in the air. In CW applications where frequency information is supplied via a SPI bus both frequency and temperature can be utilized for even finer gain compensation. Input VSWR is 1.5:1 max and 30 dB min.

Millitech was showing off their 18 to 40 GHz Gaussian optic antenna with high efficiency, high gain 12” aperture. It comes in linear and dual-linear configurations using a 2.92 mm connector. They also were showing their 18 to 40 GHz down converters which convert to 3 to 15 GHz in switched bands with local/remote control. It features less than .5 deg rms integrated phase noise, excellent spurious performance and isolation of greater than 50 dB.

National Instruments was teamed up with Ettus Research in their booth showing of their quad receiver with operation from 700 MHz to 4 GHz with four coherent antenna inputs. It uses very low noise YIG oscillators (less than -100 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz) and has a built-in calibration source with 8x 120 MSPA 16-bit ADCs. They were showing that off in conjunction with A-T Solutions LoBSTER 2.0 low band, real time system test and evaluation software. It configures for 2 to 8 channel RF outputs from 0 Hz to 6.6 GHz, has a 2 channel spectrum analyzer to precisely measure the system under test, real-time recording and playback of N-channel complex scenarios, accepts input of modeled or measured patterns from installed antenna arrays and has up to 100 MHz of RF generation bandwidth. NI is very good about partnering with companies to leverage technology.

RFHIC was showing off their high power components including their GaN high power amplifier radar pallet operating from 2700 to 3500 MHz with output power of 230 W, 30 dB gain with 35% efficiency. They also were featuring their GaN and GaAs wideband hybrid amplifiers such as their 2000 to 6000 MHz model with 40 W P1dB and 20 dB gain.

RT Logic was featuring its Telemetrix 400 Real Time Channel Simulator (T400CS) which is a powerful, yet economical communications link simulator that addresses a broad range of IF and RF hardware-in-the-loop test, operational and training applications. It creates RF and/or IF signals that precisely match those that occur when transmitters and receivers are in motion with respect to one another.

TE Connectivity (TE) featured many new next-gen connector technologies at this year’s MILCOM and AOC. It was featuring many solutions, such as MULTIGIG RT2, Quadrax, MIL-STD 1554 Data bus system, Fortis Zd, ARINC 801, Mezalok and VITA 62. The new VITA 67 RF modules enhance the ability to add RF capabilities in VITA 46 VPX board-to-board connections. The modules, available with four or eight positions, accept SMPM coaxial contacts available for a wide range of flexible and semi-rigid cable on the daughtercard and preloaded board-mount SMPM contacts on the backplane. The modular design allows application-specific configurations with high contact counts in VPX systems. The RF modules are compatible with VITA 65 OpenVPX specification, which defines standard profiles for various configurations at the chassis, backplane, slot, and module levels.

X-COM Systems, now a subsidiary of Bird Technologies Group, introduced the first in a family of Wideband Acquisition Record and Playback (WARP™) systems that allow the entire frequency spectrum between DC and 6000 MHz to be instantaneously captured and recorded for long periods without loss of a single event. The WARP-6000’s 6 GHz of bandwidth is 15 times that of its nearest competitor. When combined with X-COM’s Spectro-X™ signal analysis software, WARP allows the performance of electronic warfare, radar, and advanced wireless communications systems to be evaluated more comprehensively than has been possible before.

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