International Report

NATO Plans New STANAGs for Tactical Communications

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is reportedly developing a multinational programme to establish a new set of NATO standardisation agreements (STANAG) for battlefield tactical communications (TACOMS) systems that enter service from 2005 and beyond. The TACOMS Post-2000 effort is a continuation of recent work undertaken by NATO's PG/6 Working Group, which has attempted to establish recommendations for innovative architectures for future communications systems for the Alliance's land forces. Following an endorsement by the Conference of NATO Armament Directors and the signing of an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding, translation of the Group's work into a comprehensive family of STANAGs will be carried out under the TACOMS programme. The effort will centre on a $25 M competitively bid, industry-managed, multiyear implementation contract scheduled to be awarded during 1999.

Wherever possible, the STANAGs created under the TACOMS programme will be based on existing civilian standards and address all aspects of battlefield communications from tactical radios to divisional and higher systems. Additional areas include seamless communications between the armies of different countries and interoperability with associated airborne and naval assets. Upon completion, the new agreements will be issued to industry and form a standards matrix for all new communications equipment introduced by Alliance members thereafter. A consortium of contractors comprising France's Alcatel and Thomson-CSF Communications, Germany's Daimler-Benz Aerospace and the UK's British Aerospace Defence Systems Ltd. is bidding for the contract.

UK Sounder Flies on US Meteorological Satellite

The Anglo-French Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-B (AMSU-B) payload was launched successfully in May aboard the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-K meteorological satellite. Constructed by Matra-Marconi Space, AMSU-B is designed to provide atmospheric water vapour profiles together with precipitation and icing data, and reportedly offers better spatial resolution and upper atmosphere sound capabilities than previous equipment.

AMSU-B is a five-channel, microwave radiometer that incorporates a scanning, parabolic reflector antenna. This antenna unit rotates every 2.7 s to focus incoming radiation onto a quasi-optic system that separates the signal into frequency components for a low noise, heterodyne receiver, which, in turn, is equipped with three feed horns. A three-channel system is used to maximise the system's radiometric sensitivity. Once separated, each data stream is further refined and processed prior to delivery to the equipment's instrument processor where it is fused with additional information acquired by other onboard sensors. Prior to its integration into the NOAA-K bus, the AMSU-B was tested, characterised and calibrated in a UK Meteorological Office trials facility.

Highest Density CPLD Ready for Delivery

Netherlands contractor Philips Semiconductors has announced that its CoolRunner™ 960 macrocell complex programmable logic device (CPLD) is available currently for immediate delivery. The unit, which the company claims is the highest density CPLD available worldwide, incorporates Philips' patented Fast Zero Power™ technology, which lowers power consumption to the point where large numbers of macrocells and input/output (I/O) pins can be interconnected within the architecture without compromising performance.

CoolRunner 960 specifications include a typical propagation delay of 6 ns, a 3 V power supply requirement and a total of 960 macrocells per IC. These ICs incorporate a 36-bit logic input structure (connecting to configurable registers), which is composed of 12 fast modules, each of which contains 80 macrocells. Device interconnection is achieved via a global zero-power interconnect array and each macrocell is preceded by large amounts of wide-combinatorial logic. CoolRunner 960 devices are packaged in 492-pin ball-grid arrays with 384-I/O-pin capability, manufactured on a 0.35 mm process with five layers of metal and utilise Philips' proprietary extended programmable logic array architecture. The device is expected to be used in high speed, real-time systems such as telecommunication switches, voice recognition systems, videoconferencing packages, specialised test equipment and image processors.

DAS Ordered for Gripen Aircraft

After a lengthy development cycle, the Swedish air force has announced that it is procuring a Defensive Aids Suite (DAS) for use on its JAS 39 Gripen multirole combat aircraft. The system includes a radar homing and warning receiver (with fintop fore and aft antennas), two BOP B dispensers for the launch of BO2D towed radar decoys, a BOP C infrared decoy flare dispenser, two BOL chaff dispensers and a forward fuselage-mounted electronic warfare control unit.

Rohde & Schwarz Introduces New DSDF and Steerable Antenna Systems

German contractor Rohde & Schwarz has targeted the wideband/time-compressed communications detection and satellite/terrestrial link market sectors with new families of digital scanning direction-finding (DSDF) and steerable antenna systems, respectively. The company's DDFOxS series DSDFs are designed to detect and locate broadband and short-term signals simultaneously within the 0.5 to 1300 MHz frequency range at extremely high scanning rates. The units utilize fast Fourier transform and feature multilevel data compression, making them suitable for use as automatic search tools in complex radio-monitoring and radio-location systems. The DSDFs also can be configured with high frequency (3 to 30 MHz) and VHF/UHF (30 MHz to 1 GHz) antennas and have embedded algorithms for implementing the Watson-Watt and correlative interferometer direction-finding techniques. The systems incorporate antennas with large bandwidths and are insensitive to multipath propagation. System control (in stand-alone mode) is accomplished via an external control unit that incorporates direction-finding specific control and display tools.

The company's latest-generation models AC090, AC120, AC180 and AC300 steerable antennas are designed for the 1 to 40 GHz geostationary satellite/terrestrial link market. (The model numbers designate the 90 cm to 3 m diameters of the parabolic reflectors used in the antennas.) Each assembly features appropriate gain values and matched rotators. Further flexibility is provided by a range of feeds with differing polarisations, frequency ranges and pre-amplification. Antennas operating in the 1 to 18 GHz and 1 to 26 GHz bands (with linear, and circular and linear polarisations, respectively) utilise a series of broadband feeds. Antennas covering the 18 to 26.5 GHz and 26.5 to 40 GHz bands feature pairs of add-on antennas (mounted on either side of the main reflector) to allow for mechanically selectable linear polarisation. If signal conditioning is limited at 18 GHz, optional downconverters are available to handle signals at 18 to 40 GHz while the AC300 unit can be adapted to handle horizontally/vertically polarised signals in the 80 to 1000 MHz band by adding two logarithmic periodic antennas.

All units within the family can be positioned simultaneously in azimuth (±180º at approximately 5º per second) and elevation -5º to +95º at approximately 2º per second). System control (rotator control, antenna selection and polarisation) is achieved via a PC operating in Windows™ NT. Control sites may be located up to 1 km from a specific antenna installation.