International Report

Eutelsat Expands Its Atlantic Gateway

Paris, France-based satellite telecommunications provider Eutelsat has moved the expansion of its Atlantic gateway a stage toward completion with its authorization to construct and launch a new communications satellite to complement its existing Eutelsat I-F5 vehicle. Intended to increase Eutelsat's competitiveness in the growing Euro-American Internet, consumer network and business intra-/extranet business sectors, Atlantic Bird I will be equipped with 20 Ku-band (12 to 18 GHz) transponders and is scheduled to come on stream (at 12.5º W) by the end of March 2001. In the meantime, the organisation intends to secure its position in the sector by deploying a Eutelsat II satellite at 12.5º W in support of Eutelsat I-F5.

Australia Awards ALR-2002D CCP Contract

Australian contractor British Aerospace Australia has received a $7 M contract change proposal (CCP) award covering full-scale engineering development of its ALR-2002D airborne radar warning receiver. Mandated for use in Australia's multitype Project Echidna electronic warfare (EW) suite upgrade programme, ALR-2002D is part of the all-Australian ALR-2002 family of modular radar warning receivers being developed for use on the country's F/RF-111 strike/reconnaissance aircraft, F/A-18 tactical fighters and S-70A battlefield transport helicopters. ALR-2002D is intended for use on the S-70A while preproduction examples of the F/RF-111 dedicated variant are scheduled to be installed on aircraft by the end of the year. If applied successfully to the three platforms, the system is also likely to be applied to Australia's fleet of C-130J transport aircraft.

UK's Racal Reorganises/Wins SAR Pod Design Study

UK contractor Racal has merged its EW, radar, radio and command information systems (CIS) businesses into a new unitary organisation. These activities will be formed into radar and EW, communications and CIS divisions within the new Racal Defence Electronics Ltd.

Elsewhere within its defence activities, Racal has been awarded a concept study contract for a UK Defence and Evaluation Research Agency's podded ground moving target indicator/synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology demonstrator. Designed to lead to an operational system for use on British Tornado and Eurofighter combat aircraft, system requirements include spot-and-strip SAR modes, the ability to generate high resolution imagery from a dynamically maneuvering platform and the ability to withstand the acceleration stresses associated with low level, fast jet operations. Competitors for the contract include Marconi Electronic Systems, Elta Electronics, Ericsson Microwave Systems, Lockheed Martin Tactical Defense Systems and Raytheon Systems Co.

Inmarsat Goes Public

Telecommunications provider International Maritime Satellite (Inmarsat) has become the first international treaty organisation to transform itself into a commercial company with the establishment of Inmarsat Holdings Ltd. and Inmarsat Ltd. in April. Registered in the UK, Inmarsat Holdings is the new entity's holding company and Inmarsat Ltd. functions as its wholly owned operating arm. Initially, ownership will rest with Inmarsat's former treaty signatories who are transforming their existing investments in the organisation into shares in the new companies on a pro-rata basis. For at least the first two years of operation in the public sector, share trading in the new entities will be restricted to existing shareholders and a limited number of strategic investors. Inmarsat Holdings and Inmarsat Ltd. will be managed by a single board and Inmarsat will continue to function as a service wholesaler that works with external land earth station operators and equipment manufacturers in the satellite communications research and development, hardware, services and applications fields.

Philips Launches SOI Process Technology

Netherlands contractor Philips Semiconductors has launched its EZ-HV™ silicon-on-insulator (SOI) process technology that it claims will revolutionise the integration of high voltage components with low voltage analogue and digital circuitry on commercial silicon chips. Able to handle voltages of up to 650 V, the EZ-HV process allows for the fabrication of high voltage transistors in an extremely thin layer of silicon and the insulation of each such device with a silicon dioxide barrier. Such an approach is claimed to reduce costs and facilitate placing on-chip high and low voltage components closer together than is possible in devices manufactured using other approaches.

According to Philips, energy-efficient products such as fluorescent light bulbs and power plugs will be amongst the first beneficiaries of the EZ-HV process while its ability to integrate complex high voltage circuitry with intelligent control logic is expected to lead to the application of sophisticated techniques (such as active power factor correction and resonant switching) to high volume, low cost products. Outside lighting, other applications envisaged for EZ-HV- manufactured devices include smart power control for equipment such as television receivers, video players/recorders, fax machines, computer printers, set-top decoder boxes, DVD players, and desk- and laptop PCs.

Greece Selects ASPIS for Its F-16 Block 50+ Fighters

The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) has decided to equip the 50 F-16C/D Block 50+ multirole combat fighters it is procuring from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin with a variant of the multicontractor Advanced Self-protection Integrated Suite (ASPIS) electronic countermeasures system. Developed jointly by a consortium that comprises Litton, Raytheon Systems and Marconi Aerospace Defense Systems (MADS), an earlier ASPIS configuration is already in use aboard the HAF's existing fleet of Fighting Falcon fighters. This suite comprises Litton's AN/ALR-66(V)H1 radar warning receiver, the country-specific DIAS variant of Raytheon Systems' internally mounted AN/ALQ-187 radar jammer and MADS's AN/ALE-47 countermeasures dispensing system (CMDS).

While likely to feature a degree of commonality with its predecessor, the Block 60+ ASPIS configuration may well include missile and/or laser warning in addition to core radar warning, radar jamming and CMDS capabilities. As currently described, the Block 50+ F-16 appears to be the second most sophisticated variant of the basic design after the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) proposed Block 60 configuration. Additional Block 50+ features include Northrop Grumman's AN/APG-68(V)7 multifunction radar, conformal fuel tanks, the enlarged fuselage spine first applied to Israeli F-16D aircraft and optional installation of the latest standard modular mission computer.

Alongside the described F-16 purchase, the HAF is also procuring 15 Mirage 2000-5 Mk II aircraft from France. Based on the Mirage 2000-9 variant developed for the UAE, the Mirage 2000-5 Mk II features an upgraded Thomson-CSF DETEXIS RD series multimode radar and, possibly, a derivative of the Elettronica-Thomson EW suite that has been produced for use onboard the UAE aircraft.