International Report

Asian Communication Satellite Comes on Stream

Singaporean and Taiwanese telecommunications providers Singapore Telecom and Chunghwa Telecom Company Ltd. took title to the new ST-1 telecommunications satellite on 26 October following a two-month in-orbit workup period. ST-1 was launched from the Ariane Kourou, French Guiana launch site on 25 August and placed into drift orbit (at 80.7º east longitude) five days later. Following solar array and antenna deployment, the satellite achieved its 88º east operational location on 5 September. The vehicle’s payload was switched on during the first week of September and in-orbit payload testing began on 9 September. Satellite control (initially conducted by Singapore Telecom’s Seletar ground station) was transferred to Chunghwa Telecom’s Yangmingshan control centre on 27 September. Thereafter, system control reverted back to Seletar just prior to provisional acceptance of the new satellite by its operators.

Philips and Sanyo Team on Consumer CCDs

Netherlands contractor Philips Semiconductors has teamed with Japanese manufacturer Sanyo Electric to develop, manufacture and market charge-coupled devices (CCD) for consumer applications such as digital still and video cameras. According to Japanese market researcher Technosystems Research, the potential worldwide market for these CCDs currently is approximately 27 million units per year with an increasing emphasis on one-million- to multimillion-pixel equipment.

The new team is concentrating on frame transfer (FT) CCDs in which the detection process is separate from image storage. The FT approach reportedly offers superior light utilisation and sensitivity, greater output, a wider graduation range (enhancing image accuracy) and the ability to increase pixel numbers if required. Under the terms of the new agreement, Philips and Sanyo will jointly design an FT CCD technology and formulate a product development roadmap. Initially, Sanyo will concentrate on manufacturing wafers for one-million-pixel CCDs while Philips will concentrate on manufacturing wafers with a capacity of approximately two million pixels. In addition, Sanyo will package and test products developed by both partners with both companies marketing products under their own brand names. With regard to the high pixel end of the programme, Philips has already patented techniques for the manufacture of multimillion-pixel CCDs and developed a six-million-pixel device that is the same size as a conventional 35 mm film and offers superior contrast ratio and single-shot colour performance.

UK Procures New Communications EW System

UK contractor Racal Radio has been awarded a £26 M contract covering the supply of an undisclosed number of ground-based communications band, electronic warfare (EW) systems to the British army and royal marines. Designated as Project Odette, the new system covers the high frequency/VHF/UHF (3 MHz to 1 GHz) bands and will be mounted in a range of platforms, including Landrover utility, armoured fighting and Haggland BV206 all-terrain vehicles.

Odette incorporates commercial-off-the-shelf software and receivers and is effective in locating frequency-hopping emitters. In addition to the core intercept and direction-finding capability, Odette includes a communications subsystem based on Racal’s Panther enhanced digital tactical radio. Procurement of the new equipment was competitively tendered in the UK, Europe and the US and the first system of its type is scheduled for delivery during the first quarter of 1999. Programme completion is scheduled for the end of 1999 and includes a full in-service support and training package.

First Worldspace Multimedia Broadcast Satellite Launched Successfully

Afristar, the first of four Worldspace Inc. multimedia broadcast satellites, was launched successfully from its Ariane Kourou, French Guiana launch site in October. Built by Matra Marconi Space for programme prime Alcatel, Afristar is based on Matra Marconi’s Eurostar 2000 platform design and has a launch mass of 2739 kg, payload mass of 300 kg and design lifetime of 12 years in a 21º east orbit. The vehicle operates in the 7.025 to 7.075 GHz band for uplink and the 1.452 to 1.492 GHz range for downlink and features two 150 W output high power amplifiers. System channel capacity is 576 at 16 kbps per channel. Within the production team, Alcatel produces the vehicle’s payload while Matra Marconi is responsible for the vehicle, its deployable reflectors and antenna trimming mechanisms, and its associated control centre (located in Washington, DC).

The Worldspace constellation is intended to be the world’s first global digital multimedia (audio, data and pictures) broadcast satellite system and will comprise the Afristar vehicle together with Ameristar (95º west orbit) and Asiastar (105º east orbit) satellites. Ameristar will serve the Caribbean and Latin America (with a control station in Trinidad and Tobago) while Asiastar will provide coverage of Asia (with a control station in Canberra, Australia). All three ‘Star’ craft are of identical design and will be backed by a fourth vehicle that will act as a ground spare. When up and running, the constellation could reach a potential world audience of approximately 2.6 billion people and is intended (in part) to service the latest generation of low cost radio receivers. Each satellite within the constellation will provide three-beam coverage of a 14-million-square-kilometre area.

Russian Company Launches New ASW Suite and Millimetric Surveillance Radar

St. Petersburg, Russia-based Leninetz Holding Co. has launched a new antisubmarine warfare (ASW) mission package, a prototype of which will be retrofitted into a Russian navy Iluyshin Il-38 land-based maritime patrol aircraft for trials. The new Sea Dragon system includes a mission control computer, a magnetic anomaly detection subsystem, an electro-optical surveillance sensor, an electronic support system, acoustic processors and a new I-/J-band (8 to 20 GHz) radar developed by the NIIS Scientific Research Institute. The klystron-based coherent Sea Dragon radar weighs 260 kg and includes a planar array antenna/antenna pedestal assembly, power amplifier and receiver/exciter. NIIS claims that the equipment rivals the US AN/APS-137 radar, featuring synthetic aperture, inverse synthetic aperture, air-to-air and air-to-surface operating modes. Submodes include long-range surface target and periscope detection, navigation, beacon tracking, adverse weather look-through, target acquisition and tracking, and sonobuoy tracking options. The radar interfaces with the acoustic processing subsystem via a 1553B databus. Sea Dragon utilises three multifunction workstations (based on Barco MPRD 134 colour displays) and is scheduled to begin its initial test programme during mid-1999.

In a separate development, Leninetz affiliate Systema has revealed a new 3 mm wavelength surveillance radar designed for applications such as helicopter search and rescue. Weighing approximately 50 kg, the new sensor comprises a combined antenna/transceiver unit and a processing and control computer. The unit features a 0.8 kW power requirement and can scan a ±45º sector in azimuth and –20º to +10º in elevation. The radar can detect small boats/life rafts and small-/medium-sized ships at ranges of up to 5 km and 15 to 20 km, respectively, with a range resolution of 8 m. Over land, the equipment can detect power lines at up to 3 km, automobiles at up to 15 km and individual structures (including bridges) at up to 20 km. First tested in prototype form during the 1995–1997 period, future applications for the new millimetric radar include high resolution terrain imaging, collision avoidance, sensor cueing and targeting.