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Aerospace and Defense Channel / MTT-S IMS

Strong Focus on Defense Market at IMS 2013

June 17, 2013
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Seattle was the venue for IMS 2013 providing a platform for the industry to discuss industry trends and launch strategies, products and processes. Strategy Analytics hosted a lunch session to discuss RF technology opportunities from the defense sector as well as leading a panel session looking at the impact of competing technologies on the GaAs industry.

The Strategy Analytics Defense Market Opportunities for RF Technologies session outlined regional trends for defense spending with Strategy Analytics forecasts detailing declining European and North American budgets as well as the growth expected from the Asia-Pacific, MEA and CALA regions. While budgetary declines will impact the rollout of next-generation platforms such as the F-35, technology will be the differentiator and there will be a continued emphasis on improving capabilities in the areas of radar, electronic and communications. As systems evolve, this will drive opportunities for RF technologies serving as the building blocks to implement the architectural changes needed to realize future capabilities.

TriQuint showcased a range of new products at IMS 2013 including 15 new GaN products, and in addition, the company announced two new GaN processes. The TGATQGaN25HV extends the drain operating voltage of TriQuint’s 0.25-micron GaN process to 48V leading to parts such as the T1G4012036-FS/FL 120W packaged transistor for radar and infrastructure. The company also joined the growing group of companies looking to extend GaN capabilities towards higher Ka-band and beyond (see Northrop Grumman Breaks from Pack with GaN Products Targeting Higher Frequency Markets). The company’s new TQGaN15 process underpinned two new products for use as VSAT ground terminal amplifiers at Ka-band.

Northrop Grumman continued to lead the charge at higher frequencies with the APN180FP GaN MMIC. Targeting Ka-band commercial and military applications, the product represents the Northrop Grumman’s first packaged product based on the company’s 0.2 micron process.

Press events included a briefing from Agilent highlighting that the future of test systems for the defense sector will be focused on faster measurements, better performance and cost of ownership. At Freescale’s press briefing the company emphasized some of the trends driving RF technology demand in the commercial sector, but also announced its move back to into the defense sector with both LDMOS and GaN products targeting communications with radar, electronic warfare and other applications to follow.

Other news included:

  • M/A-COM is enjoying a resurgence and was emphasizing the company’s GaN and GaAs offerings in the defense sector, highlighting the vast catalog of products built up over decades emphasizing the importance of longevity and the design expertise the company is able to bring enabling GaN devices in plastic packaging.
  • Skyworks was also emphasizing products for the defense sector targeting low noise performance requirements with a GaAs pHEMT LNA offering noise figures as low as 0.25dB covering a 3GHz bandwidth.
  • Microsemi GaAs-based offerings demonstrated at IMS 2013 included power amplifiers for X-band and Ka-band applications, and the company is also providing solutions in GaN, SiC and other technologies.
  • Emerging UK-based Diamond Microwave highlighted the company’s GaN-based products designed to displace TWTs from satcom, radio, radar and missile seeker applications.

Despite the challenges being faced by the defense sector in terms of budgeting, robust activity at IMS 2013 appear to concur with the Strategy Analytics view that advancing competencies in areas such as radar, communications, electronic warfare etc. will drive continued demand for RF technologies, with GaN representing the center-piece amongst a range of building blocks that will be used to implement the architectural changes needed to realize future capabilities.

Recent Articles by Asif Anwar, Program Director, Strategy Analytics

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