International Report

Logica to Demonstrate Expert Application for Maritime Patrol Aircraft
UK contractor Logica has been awarded a multimillion-pound contract from the UK's Ministry of Defence for a technology demonstration of an expert system designed to offer advice to maritime patrol aircraft operators engaged in anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare (ASW/ASUW). Logica will act as prime contractor for an industrial team comprising Westland System Assessment Ltd., Aerosystems International and BAeSEMA.

Designated as the maritime aircraft tactical decision support system (MATDSS) programme, the effort is targeted principally at the royal navy's next-generation Merlin HA.1 ASW/ASUW helicopter. The demonstration will consist of a network of workstations that will simulate the operational domain and support man-in-the-loop trials. Using artificial intelligence techniques, MATDSS will apply expert knowledge to formulate real-time advice on tactics (such as platform heading and deployment of sensors) to maximise mission efficiency.

When MATDSS development is complete, royal navy aircrew will participate in a series of trials in a mock-up of the aircraft environment that will be equipped with Merlin-type instrumentation and displays. These trials will reproduce high stress scenarios with mission performance measured with and without MATDSS support. The data derived should be sufficient to determine the real value of such expert aids and, if successful, help to refine the requirement for an operational system. Logica expects the MATDSS effort to set the trend in a number of related application areas.

Rohde & Schwarz Wins ADCF Communications Award
German contractor Rohde & Schwarz has been selected by the royal Netherlands navy as its industrial partner for the integration of the internal and external communications system for the new air defence and command frigate (ADCF). The award comprises system integration work together with turnkey delivery of the vessel's intercommunications, public address and radio communications (high frequency/very high frequency/UHF (3 MHz to 1 GHz) and satellite) subsystems.

Implementation will be in collaboration with the Portuguese company FABA/EID. Overall system features include a broadband high frequency package that reduces the number of onboard antennas and the introduction of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) standard SATURN UHF frequency-agile radio. The Netherlands navy is planning to procure for ADCF frigates, which are to be built by the Dutch Schelde yard. The last of this quartet is scheduled to make its maiden voyage during the middle of 2004. This latest contract adds significantly to Rohde & Schwarz's naval work, complementing awards received for the supply of equipment and services into the binational ATS/LPD landing platform dock and German F124 class frigate programmes.

EAST to Upgrade Euro African Telecommunications
Marking a major advancement in the planned provision of next-generation affordable mobile telephony, fixed telephony and data services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the Euro African Satellite Telecommunications Ltd. (EAST) was established this past December. Comprising Anglo-French Matra Marconi Space, Digimed (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Cyprus Telecommunications authority), France's Matra Hautes Technologies and Norwegian contractor Nera, the EAST consortium aims to establish a geostationary communications satellite system to serve the described geographical area from 2001 and beyond.

An application for the necessary orbital positions and frequency allocations has been made through the UK's Radio Communications Agency and EAST is currently negotiating with potential investors to finalise programme funding (estimated at $800 M). The consortium also will negotiate and finalise a turnkey contract for the in-orbit delivery of a satellite together with associated ground system facilities. An industrial team comprising Matra Marconi Space, Nera and Swedish contractor Ericsson will provide the system hardware.

Research Suggests Breakthrough in Microwave Tube Insulation
UK contractor Thorn Microwave Devices Ltd. (TMD) has suggested that it may be on the verge of a breakthrough in microwave tube electrical insulation following the initial stages of a research programme that is being funded by the UK's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. Within these tubes, electrical insulation is essential in areas such as the electron gun, helix support, collector and RF windows.

TMD states that initial tests performed with chemical vapour deposited (CVD) diamond show significant advantages over traditional insulators such as alumina, beryllia, boron nitride and aluminum nitride with few of the disadvantages exhibited by those materials (such as beryllia's carcinogen implications). TMD claims that tests have shown that CVD diamond offers high electrical resistivity combined with a tenfold increase in thermal conductivity and one-quarter of the coefficient of expansion compared to other materials. Thus far, the research has involved the acquisition of CVD diamond samples from a number of manufacturers and their evaluation in terms of machining properties, chemical and thermal processing, metallisation and brazing.

In addition, RF, thermal and destructive testing of experimental structures incorporating CVD diamond has been performed, all of which reportedly show encouraging results. The next phase of the programme (in collaboration with prime contractors, government agencies and CVD diamond suppliers) will involve the construction and testing of a prototype microwave tube.

Boeing to Upgrade European AWACS Aircraft
US contractor Boeing has received two contracts covering the upgrading of E-3A sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft operated by the NATO multinational airborne early warning force together with E-3D platforms operated by the UK's royal air force (RAF). The UK effort involves Boeing installing an integrated Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation package in the RAF's fleet of seven E-3Ds scheduled for completion in May 2001. The NATO programme (designated as the NATO midterm engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) effort) introduces a major mission system upgrade in the Alliance's 17 E-3A aircraft.

The NATO midterm EMD involves the introduction of a range of system upgrades, including flat-panel situation displays (operating in a Windows-like environment); multisensor integration; an open-architecture mission computer (which will support the future insertion of upgraded commercial hardware and software); a digital communications system (including satellite links); a GPS receiver; improved identification subsystems; and broad spectrum VHF (30 to 300 MHz) transceivers to provide interoperability with Eastern European air and ground forces.

Major subcontractors on this $450 M programme include US' Litton Systems, Lockheed Martin Federal Systems and Rockwell International; Belgium's Alcatel Bell NV; Canada's Computing Devices Canada; Denmark's Computer Resources International A/S; Germany's Daimler-Benz Aerospace AG; Italy's Elmer and MID SpAs; and Norway's Kongsberg Defence Systems. Both upgrade efforts complement the AWACS radar system improvement (RSIP) programme, which will be applied to US, NATO, UK and, possibly, French sentries. RSIP aims to improve the reliability and maintainability of the E-3's AN/APY-2 radar as well as increasing its detection range against small radar cross-section targets such as cruise missiles.