The third annual installment of the EuMW Defence, Security and Space forum, organized by Microwave Journal and EuMA, was held this past Wednesday, October 31st at the Auditorium of the Amsterdam RAI Conference and Exhibition Centre. The full-day forum focused on space and defence issues and featured an opening panel discussion on Radar enabling technologies from an industrial perspective, followed by the EuRAD Opening Session , a “Lunch and Learn” market analysis session hosted by Strategy Analytics entitled Military Satellite Trends and Outlook, an afternoon Session presented by industry and agency experts on the latest developments in RF Space systems targeting security interests and concluded with the EuMW Defence and Security Executive Forum and networking reception. The whole day event was sponsored by Peregrine Semiconductor, RFMD, TriQuint Semiconductor, National Instruments and Rohde & Schwarz.
The Microwave Journal hosted early morning panel session, ” Industrial Perspectives – Newly developed microwave technology for pivotal defence, security and space applications”, was well attended by approximately 125 delegates. The Forum event sponsors provided the panel experts who discussed the challenges facing the development of next generation Radars from the perspective of RF/microwave integrated device and test/measurement equipment manufacturers. Since semiconductor and test technologies represent the leading edge of capabilities in Radar development, the assembled panelists were well-suited to discuss a wide range of interesting perspectives.
Leading off the discussion was Peter Bacon, Director of System and Architecture High-Performance Solutions Peregrine Corporation. Bacon presented information on RF CMOS integration for increased performance, functionality and test in Phased-array Radar applications. The theme of greater integration requirements would be echoed through each talk with the various panelists offering different perspectives and potential solutions. Peregrine’s CMOS technology was discussed in the context of next-generation, active phased array Radar where beamforming in support of multitasking, improved detection sensitivity, increased number of elements (miniaturization), integrated MMICs and increased digitization for DSP where among the high priority requirements. In addition to the capabilities of integrating RF and digital functionality in single chip or multi-chip module form via the company’s UltraCMOS process, Bacon discussed the company’s status on manufacturability, a theme that was picked up by RFMD’s David Aichele.
Aichele discussed his company’s work in High Power GaN solutions for next generation Radar specifically covering the company’s effort to address reliability and volume production issues. RFMD has released two GaN-on-SiC processes (one optimized for peak power and efficiency, the other for linearity) and is developing a third. Re-enforcing the comments of Peregrine’s spokesperson, Aichele discussed the end markets requirements for larger detection area, improved early detection, reduced size and weight and improved reliability. RFMD is offering GaN products specifically targeting civilian and military Radar applications at L- and S-band with multi-chip module solutions.
GaN was also the main subject of the talk by Dean White, Product Solutions Business Development Manager at TriQuint Semiconductor, on “Advances in GaN/GaAs MMIC & Packaging Technology Supporting Next-Generation Phased Array Radars”. White offered a quick primer on the various RF components and general performance requirements in a typical Radar system. Emphasizing the need to reduce size, weight and power (SWaP) requirements, White presented a single GaN Ku-band MMIC power amplifier that could be used to replace 4 MMICs based on GaAs pHEMT technology. The 3x to 5x increase in power density and higher PAE means reduced size and less system prime power although the higher power density means more heat in a concentrated area. Similar to Peregrine, the TriQuint talk also included a focus on T/R module integration though MMIC and multi-chip modules capabilities, albeit one based on a GaAs/GaN approach as opposed to the RF CMOS technology discussed in the earlier presentation.
The next two talks shifted attention to the challenges of Radar testing and the advances in digital signal processing, FPGAs and software defined radios that are changing Radar capabilities, implementation and testing. Jin Bains, Vice President of RF Research and Development at National Instruments, talked about the role of FPGA technology and its ability to transform instrumentation as well as fundamental Radar capabilities through DSP and SDR. Bains presented an example of SDR being used in the implementation of passive ground-based Radar from Selex, where background RF signals reflected off a target are received and processed by the Radar. Passive Radar allows target sensing without generating a signal that can be detected by the target itself.
Ralf Schwefer of Rohde & Schwarz concluded the presentation phase of the panel with a different yet equally important discussion on the emerging challenges in manufacturing, operation and support of Radar systems. Schwefer, Business Development Manager Europe, Test & Measurement for Aerospace and Defence, began his talk with the RF interference challenges of co-located Radar and communication systems. Schwefer also covered the topic of R&D versus production test and the impact on test depth and throughput as well as the challenges of long-term programs and Radar lifecycles and the impact on their supporting test systems. Regarding test depth and throughput, Schwefer offered an example of an AESA ground-based Radar based whose test routines per modules call for close to 41,000 measurements per RF module. At 1,000 modules per terminal, such a system requires nearly 41 million measurements per Radar.
The length of the presentations cut into the time left for Q& A, which focused on the themes of semiconductor integration and the role of software defined instrumentation on Radar development and testing, setting the stage for the EuRAD program that followed.