International Report

Netherlands Moves Frigate Programme Forward With Radar Contract

Following its selection of Racal's Sabre electronic support/countermeasures system (see page 45 in the January issue of Microwave Journal), the royal Netherlands navy's de Zeven Provincien class frigate programme has progressed further with the receipt of a new radar contract. Under the terms of the contract, Netherlands contractor SIGNAAL will supply examples of its active phased-array radar (APAR) for installation aboard the four ships composing the class.

Also selected for use aboard German F124 class frigates, APAR is an X-band (8 to 12 GHz) multifunction radar that can simultaneously detect and track sea-skimming antishipping missiles and air targets while providing guidance for a wide range of surface-to-air missiles. The system's antenna comprises four arrays, each of which contains more than 3000 transceiver modules. The individual arrays are capable of generating multiple beams within a cone of approximately 120º in azimuth and 70º in elevation. Beamswitching reportedly is very rapid and the equipment is able to conduct noncooperative target recognition. As currently scheduled, the four APAR radars involved in the Dutch effort are scheduled for delivery during the 2001 to 2003 period.

Thomson Reorganises and Establishes New Joint Venture

As part of an ongoing restructuring effort, French defence electronics contractor Thomson-CSF has established a new DETEXIS business group and formed a new joint venture company with UK contractor Racal Radio. The DETEXIS entity comprises the former Dassault Electronique, Thomson-CSF Radars et Contre-Mesures and Thomson-CSF Missile Electronics businesses. With a work force of approximately 7200 (75 percent of whom are qualified engineers and technicians), the new organisation is headed by Jean-Robert Martin and will focus on missile electronics, airborne radars, electronic warfare equipment and information systems.

The new MBN Ltd. joint venture formed by Thomson-CSF Communications and Racal Radio will develop, manufacture, market and support multimedia, broadband digital (communications) access networks on a worldwide basis. MBN joins Thomson's eight existing UK-based subsidiaries and four joint ventures and is located in Bracknell, Berkshire. Initially, the new entity's work force will be drawn from the labour pools of its two parent companies with the expectation that future business will result in several hundred new engineering posts within the first five years of operation.

MBN is expected to manage the Racal/Thomson local area subsystem that has been selected for the UK Ministry of Defence's Bowman communications programme. The joint venture already claims to have identified specific future business opportunities in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America, and expects to be trading profitably by 2000/2001.

TMD Launches New Concept in Microwave Transmitter Design

UK contractor Thorn Microwave Devices (TMD) has reportedly developed an entirely new concept in high power microwave transmitter design that makes use of multiple traveling-wave-tube amplifiers (TWTA) rather than single-tube or solid-state solutions. TMD maintains that the approach offers affordable, efficient units that have the added advantage of graceful degradation. In terms of the specific design approach used, TMD's multiple TWTA transmitters utilise a family of standard building blocks that comprise 1 and 6 kW high voltage power supply units, pulse ring/loop and pulse helix TWTs, air-cooled base plates and input divider/amplifier assemblies. Output divider assemblies for phased-array antennas and combiners for single-feed arrays can be incorporated into the transmitter package if required. For example, the S-band (2 to 4 GHz), eight-line replaceable multiple TWTA transmitter application offers a peak power of 90 kW at a five percent duty rate and bandwidth of 1 GHz. This device has a mean time between failure value of more than 15,000 hours, 95 percent power factor and overall wall plug-to-radio frequency efficiency of 34 percent.

Ericsson Wins German Improved HARD Order

German prime STN Atlas Electronic has awarded Swedish contractor Ericsson Microwave Systems a multimillion-dollar contract covering the supply of 10 Improved HARD three-dimensional air defence radars for use in Germany's Light Air Defence System (designated LeFlaSys in German military parlance). The award follows STN Atlas's experimental integration of an Improved HARD radar into a German army MaK Wiesel 2 surveillance vehicle in 1996.

Improved HARD is an X-band (8 to 12 GHz) track-while-scan radar that can simultaneously track more than 20 air targets and five jamming sources at ranges of up to 20 km. For self-protection, the equipment utilises low probability of intercept techniques with an average output peak power of 30 W and complex transmission patterns. Frequency and beam elevation are changed on a pulse-by-pulse basis, thereby forcing a hostile jammer into barrage mode and reducing its power level. The first Improved HARD radar for the LeFlaSys programme is scheduled for completion in 2000 with the final unit to be delivered in 2002.

Philips Launches $250 FHSS Evaluation Board

Netherlands contractor Philips Semiconductors has launched a $250 four-chip configuration frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) radio evaluation board designed for home network applications such as sharing voice and data transmissions between PCs, peripherals and PC-enhanced cordless telephones; mobile access to the Internet (using portable display devices); reviewing incoming voice, fax and e-mail messages on PC-enhanced cordless telephones; and voice activating home electronic systems. The board implements the front end of a 2.4 GHz frequency-hopping subsystem and includes all necessary analogue circuitry. The front end used is half duplexed and incorporates a 2.45 GHz RF power amplifier, transceiver switch, low voltage 2.45 GHz transceiver, low voltage mixer, dual-frequency synthesiser and frequency-modulated IF system. Both the transmit and receive paths are designed to meet or exceed the latest Shared Wireless Access Protocol - Cordless Access and IEEE 802.11 frequency-hopping specifications.

Greece Opts for Erieye/EMB-145 AEW&C Solution

In a transaction worth approximately $500 M (subject to final negotiations), the Greek government has selected a consortium of Sweden's Ericsson Microwave, France's Thomson-CSF DETEXIS and Brazil's Embraer to meet its outstanding airborne early warning and command (AEW&C) platform requirement. The solution utilises a variant of Embraer's EMB-145SA airframe (already selected for use in Brazil's Sistema de Vigilincia da Amazonia (SIVAM) programme) equipped with Ericsson's Erieye active phased-array AEW radar, five operator workstations, Thomson's DR 3000 electronic support measures system and an upgraded equipment cooling package (when compared with the SIVAM aircraft).

Within the Greek AEW&C competition, the Erieye/EMB-145 solution was pitched against the Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye and an AEW&C variant of Lockheed Martin's C-130 transport that would have been fitted with the APS-145 surveillance radar. The winning proposal is fully NATO interoperable and the first aircraft is scheduled for delivery three years after contract signature.