Martin Streetly, International Correspondent

ESA to Develop New Generation EW Systems

In a move aimed at the eventual provision of a new generation of electronic warfare (EW) equipment for Sweden's newly unified defence forces, the country's Defence Materiel Administration (the FMV) has awarded Ericsson Saab Avionics (ESA) AB a US $5 million contract covering work on development of the necessary technology. This award represents the second phase of the effort and is scheduled for completion by the end of next year. As such, it is expected to produce hardware demonstrators of potential shipboard and airborne jamming systems. A key element within the programme appears to be the use of modularity to facilitate the production of multi-platform systems that can be readily upgraded to meet new threats, undertake new functions and incorporate new technology as required. Alongside developmental work of the type described, ESA currently produces or supports a range of airborne EW equipments that includes the U22, Erijammer A100 and Erijammer A110 radar jamming pod systems and the EWS39 defensive aids suite for the JAS 39 Gripen fighter.

Astrium to Launch New Geo-information Subsidiary

Starting early this year, European space contractor Astrium is rolling its Friedrichshafen, Germany-based earth observation subsidiary into its British-based National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) to create a new satellite/air vehicle-generated geo-information provider designated as InfoTerra. As currently conceived, the two components of the new organisation will operate as independent profit centres and will initially provide customers with data derived from existing airborne and satellite-based sensors. From 2005, it is proposed to supplement these types of data with imagery acquired by the proposed TerraSAR spaced-based synthetic aperture radar system. Here, the proposed architecture comprises two multi-channel radar satellites operating on two frequencies to generate 1m resolution imagery, independent of weather conditions. Operating in polar orbits at an altitude of 600 km, the two TerraSAR vehicles should be able to provide repeat coverage of a specified target every six to seven days, a time period that will be reduced to two days in an 'emergency' situation. Looking to the future, Astrium is known to be canvassing for additional InfoTerra partners, particularly in France where it already has shareholdings in a number of geo-information providers. Astrium itself is a joint venture between the European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) Co (75 percent holding) and BAE Systems.

Europe Gears Up for Galileo

In the run-up to the European Union's (EU) decision whether or not to go ahead with the Galileo next-generation, global satellite navigation and positioning system (scheduled for 20 December 2000), late November 2000 saw a hectic round of preparatory meetings involving industry and politicians. Starting on the 20th of the month, officials from the EU's various member states met in Brussels to review the status of a number of Galileo definition phase activities, including the private-public partnership funding mechanism proposed for the programme. This was followed up on the 21st by a politico-industrial briefing at the European Parliament. Two days later (23 November 2000), representatives from 85 interested companies attended a Galileo workshop in Paris. If launched, the Galileo programme is intended to provide ultra-reliable, high accuracy navigational data for safety-critical transport applications such as the proposed open skies air traffic control regime.

UK Demonstrates Airborne UWB SAR Mine Detection System

The UK's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) has teamed with the Lightship Group (LG) to demonstrate an airborne ultra-wideband synthetic aperture radar (UWB SAR) in the mine detection role over Kosovo. Using an LG A60+ airship as the host vehicle, the DERA radar is reported as having an instantaneous bandwidth of approximately 3 GHz and makes use of very short pulsewidths to enhance range resolution. The sensor is further reported to be able to make use of individual target scattering mechanisms to discriminate and classify targets. Physically, the system comprises two 19 inch equipment racks located in the airship's gondola, an external 2.5 kW auxiliary power unit and a forward-facing antenna array. Within this latter unit, the transmission and reception arrays appear to be mounted back-to-back, with a dedicated Global Positioning System (GPS) antenna completing the array. Here, GPS is used to accurately plot the host vehicle's position in conjunction with an associated ground station.

Flight trials of the described radar are understood to have begun in the UK during January of last year, with the sensor being used to locate metallic and plastic targets (down to 10 cm in diameter) on or under tarmac and long and short grass. During the Kosovo demonstration, the radar was installed aboard the airship on 7 November 2000 and made its first operational flight on the 12th. On this first flight, the sensor was used to survey a mined site to the north of Pristina. Sorties with the radar fitted were completed on 14 November 2000.

Siemens Demonstrates Next Generation Optical Data Transmission System

German contractor Siemens' Information and Communication Networks business has field tested its next generation TransXpress WaveLine MetroNet optical data transmission system using Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Nova's infrastructure. Designed for metropolitan applications, TransXpress WaveLine MetroNet is designed to facilitate data transmission at rates of between 50 Mb/s and 2.5 Gb/s, irrespective of the data format. Individual signals are protected on a channel basis (guaranteeing transmission reliability) and the system works with a management terminal to monitor and administer the services it provides. Accordingly, parameters such as data transport rates can be monitored for use in service maintenance and data-rate-specific billing applications. During the noted field trial (which also tested the product's interoperability with third part equipment), TransXpress WaveLine MetroNet demonstrated its ability to successfully transmit a 270 Mb/s studio TV signal along a T-Nova fibre-optic link between Darmstadt and Berlin in Germany. Other noted system features includes a pay-as-you-grow facility (providing cost-effective network capacity growth as required); single platform simultaneous data/service transmission (thereby lowering operating costs); a low power requirement and an increase in transmission distances, irrespective of the quality of the devices connected to it.

LMA&ES Acquisition Approved

The necessary US regulatory approvals have been granted to allow UK contractor BAE Systems to complete its acquisition of Lockheed Martin's Aerospace and Electronic Systems (LMA&ES) business for a reported US $1.67 B. Employing approximately 5000 people within the US, analysts suggest that the acquisition could be worth some US $3.7 B in sales to BAE, and that its jewel in the crown is the Sanders electronic warfare (EW) house. Currently, the subsidiary is a major supplier of black and white world EW equipment for both the US and offshore allied armed services. Under its new ownership, LMA&ES will be known as BAE Systems North America's Information and Electronic Systems Integration sector. *