Paris Air Show and MTT-S Provide the Stage for Defense Contracts and Technologies
Defense news for the month was dominated by the Paris Air Show though the deals were outclassed by the record civil aerospace deals. In likely the biggest single defense deal, the Paris Air Show saw Raytheon announce a $1.7 B Direct Commercial Sales contract to upgrade Saudi Arabia's Patriot Air and Missile Defense System to the latest Configuration-3.
In radar-related news, Eurofighter and Euroradar secured funds for full-scale development programme of the E-Scan radar, confirming the 2015 entry into service date. Selex Galileo (who leads the Euroradar consortium) was also awarded a contract by Worldwide Aeros Corp., a U.S. prime contractor for aerostat vehicles, to deliver its Seaspray 7500E AESA radar for a ground-surveillance tethered aerostat balloon operated by the Republic of Korea Army. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman demonstrated its STARLite radar on a U.S. Army Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS), another aerostat surveillance platform.
Another variant of Selex Galileo’s Seaspray radar is to be installed on Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft operated by the Finnish Border Guard (Rajavartiolaitos) and the company has also been selected to provide Gabbiano-series radars for Israeli manufacturer Elbit Systems' Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 unmanned air vehicles.
Airborne radar systems also saw a new entrant to the market with the Airbus Military C295 development aircraft making its first flight fitted with an AEW&C rotodome; the latter will be static since the primary sensor will be the IAI/ELTA 4th Generation AESA radar with integrated IFF. The platform is designed to be a competitor to turboprops like the E-2D Hawkeye and Saab 340/2000 Erieye -- as well as mid-tier jet options like Brazil’s EMB-145 AEW&C, or IAI’s own Gulfstream G550 CAEW.
Maritime surveillance continues to make use of unmanned systems, providing opportunities for radar suppliers also. Raytheon delivered the first of three SeaVue expanded mission capability radars to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Raytheon delivered the first production radar in the record time of just six months. This radar will be installed on U.S. Customs and Border Protection's second Guardian unmanned aircraft system, a maritime variant of the Predator B.
AESA technology is also starting to figure in missile technology with MBDA unveiling the output of the Concept Visions process for 2011; the CVS 401 Perseus concept missile system, which represents the group’s vision of a multi-role strike weapon system for 2030 and beyond an advanced dual-mode sensor package comprising an AESA radar combined with a laser radar (LADAR) to allow for all-weather operations in all configurations of terminal engagement. Radar modes such as SAR and DBS are designed to enable long-range target detection and discrimination in complex land and naval tactical environments, including those involving advanced counter measures.
On the EW front, Danish company Terma was prolific with announcements coming from AugustaWestland, Eurocopter and the Polish Defense for helicopter-based EW systems while the Norwegian Air Force chose Terma’s pylon-based MWS (missile warning system) for their F-16s. However, the most high profile EW contract was probably related to Boeing announcing its supplier team for the U.S. Air Force's KC-46 Tanker with Raytheon set to supply ALR-69A digital radar warning receivers and digital anti-jam receiver global positioning systems.
On the communications front, Rockwell Collins celebrated the first full-rate production delivery of its ARC-210 RT-1939(C) Generation 5 radio to PMA 209, the air combat electronics program office of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command. The fifth-generation ARC-210 is reportedly the first airborne software-defined radio to hit the market and is a multi-band, multimode receiver-transmitter operating in the V/UHF frequency range, providing extended coverage from 30 to 941 MHz for military and public service radio bands.
Meanwhile, Harris had several contracts to supply variants of its Falcon III multiband, multi-mission, software-defined radios as well as issuing software upgrades to expand network coverage. The company also conducted technology demonstrators in conjunction with Cubic that allow UAS video and targeting data to be delivered to fighters operating at the tactical edge. Cobham also received a DARPA contract to develop a highly capable, cost-effective military radio for use by ground personnel, leveraging investments previously made by DARPA under the Wireless Network after Next (WNaN) program.
On the semiconductor technology front, MTT-S provided a platform for GaN technologies with announcements from Cree, Fujitsu, Integra, M/A-COM, Microsemi, NXP, RFMD and TriQuint. Product introductions ranged from L-band through to Ku-band. While the early defense implementation for GaN technology has focused on EW applications, products announcements at the show focused on communications and radar applications. Custom MMIC Design Services Inc. (CMDS) has been awarded its second Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II contract from the United States Army to develop millimeter-wave, high linearity, high power amplifiers on GaN for Satcom systems. Toshiba meanwhile launched a new 25 W GaN HEMT targeting Satcom applications, including VSAT at Ku-band.
Devices showcased included both transistors and MMICs with companies such as Cree and Fujitsu outlining the development of chipsets that incorporate both transmit and receive functionality of a module in GaN technology. Moving away from RF front-ends, TriQuint highlighted some the milestones it has been achieving, including continued development of GaN digital circuitry as part of the NEXT program, while Northrop Grumman demonstrated GaN implementation of high power digital controlled artificial dielectric (DiCAD) reconfigurable transmission lines by integrating GaN HEMT switches and metal insulator-metal capacitors (MIM CAPs) into coplanar strip transmission lines as a way of moving toward reconfigurable RF/microwave circuits. The plethora of announcements points to the growing maturity of GaN and will ensure continued success for the companies involved in the development of this RF semiconductor technology.