International Report

Raytheon Named  Preferred Bidder for ASTOR Programme

The UK's Ministry of Defence used the Paris Air Show (held 12-20 June) to announce that an industrial consortium led by Raytheon UK subsidiary Raytheon Systems Ltd. had been selected as the preferred bidder for the country's £800 M, multiservice Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) programme. Designed to provide an airborne battlefield surveillance capability based on the use of a synthetic aperture/moving target indicator (SAR/MTI) radar, the ASTOR specification includes requirements for interleaved (but not concurrent) SAR and MTI functions, a maximum surveillance range of between 250 and 300 km, swath and spotlight SAR modes (with a spotlight resolution of approximately 0.5 m), the ability to track moving ground targets at speeds down to less than 10 kmph, the ability to detect and track helicopters in flight and the ability to operate off tether. The radar makes use of Doppler processing while its MTI facility features automatic target tracking and sector scan.

The Raytheon solution is built around a Bombardier Global Express long-range business jet that has been modified to incorporate a sensor based on the Raytheon Advanced SAR System (ASARS)-2: radar, workstations for an onboard mission crew of three, a communications suite (including a Link 16/Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) terminal and X- (8 to 12 GHz) and Ku- (12 to 18 GHz) band data links) and a defensive aids suite. The all-important radar sensor makes use of the latest standard hardware used in the US Air Force's ASARS-2 sets together with a new, 4.6-m-long, electronically steered antenna that is being developed by UK contractor Marconi Electronic Systems. SAR processing for the system is understood to be supported by the UK's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency.

The system will comprise a training package, a mission support subsystem, six mobile Tactical Ground Stations (TGS), two deployment Operational-level Ground Stations (OLGS), and five air vehicles and onboard mission systems. The training package will comprise a flight simulator; flight-, rear- and ground station crew trainers (all served by associated instructor workstations); and three classroom facilities. The mission support subsystem will include a mission support reference sample facility, a portable mission planning system, a data replay facility and a software support facility. The six TGS units will be mounted on Pinzgauer rough terrain vehicles and make use of communications modules, eight workshop modules, 14 trailer-mounted generator modules, six support modules, six antenna trailers, six data link modules and six remote terminals. The two OLGS facilities will comprise two sets of communications modules, five sets of workshop modules, two sets of communications/data link modules, seven generator modules and four remote terminals. The ASTOR air vehicles will be capable of operating at altitudes in excess of 14,326 m, have provision for in-flight refuelling, be capable of flying 13-hour missions and have a ferry range of approximately 11,112 km.

Of the £800 M programme cost, approximately £600 M are devoted to the front end of the system with the remaining £200 M going to through-life support. As currently envisaged, a formal ASTOR contract will be signed before the end of the year and the capability is scheduled to enter service during 2005. The ASTOR system will be based at RAF Waddington in the UK where it will create 300 service and 50 civilian posts supported by a force of approximately 40 contractor personnel.

Philips Targets Dual-band Digital Cellular Market with New Front-end Receiver IC

Netherlands contractor Philips Semiconductors is targeting the dual-band, digital cellular telephone market with the new model SA3600 low power, front-end receiver IC. The device integrates 800 and 1900 MHz band low noise amplifiers and downconverters and features an on-chip LO frequency doubler, input/output buffer amplifiers, matching circuitry and control-mode logic to reduce external glue components. The 800 MHz band amplifier/mixer package consumes 10 mA (2.7 V supply) while the 1900 MHz band architecture's consumption value is 14 mA at the same supply level. According to a company spokesman, such values represent a 35 percent power savings on current best-in-class GaAs RF front-end ICs. At 881 MHz (with an external, interstage, surface acoustic wave filter attached), the device has a gain of 24 dB, noise figure of 2.6 dB and input IP3 of -10.5 dBm. The equivalent values at 1960 MHz are 22 dB, 3.1 dB and -10.4 dBm, respectively. The SA3600 device is currently available and is presented in a 24-pin, plastic thin shrink, small outline package.

Thomson Retained to Supply NH90 IFF Interrogator

French contractor Thomson-CSF Communications has been retained by Italian helicopter manufacturer Agusta to supply identification friend-or-foe (IFF) interrogators for use aboard the naval variant of the four-nation (France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands) NH90 military helicopter. The equipment selected is derived from the TSX 2500 family of modular systems, which includes the TSB 2500 interrogator-transponder that is installed aboard Sweden's Saab S 100B Argus airborne early-warning and control aircraft. Here, the device comprises a combined Mk XII interrogator/Mk XII Mode S transponder unit and antenna control or adapter unit. As an interrogator, the unit operates at a frequency of 1030 (±0.2) MHz in Mode 1, 2, 3/A, C and 4; as a transponder, the unit uses a frequency of 1090 (±0.5) MHz to provide Mode 1, 2, 3/A, 4 and S coverage. As applied to the NH90, the TSX 2500 interrogator will operate with the helicopter's European Navy Radar, which is being developed by a consortium of Thomson-CSF, Germany's DaimlerChrysler Aerospace and Italy's FIAR. This latest retainer follows a contract Thomson was awarded by Eurocopter Deutschland for the supply of TSC 2000 Mode S IFF transponders for use aboard both the naval and battlefield transport variants of the NH90.

UK Sentries to Get ACE Capability

Three of the UK's seven E-3D Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft are to be equipped with an Airborne Mission Support System (AMSS) that will provide them with an Airborne Command Element (ACE) facility. Developed against the Royal Air Force's Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) 42/99, the Racal Defence Electronics AMSS equipment is located at station 18 in the aircraft and will allow an onboard commander (two-star rank) to receive and display tactical information in near real time. Data types available through the system include air-tasking orders, combat search and rescue plans, area weather reports and intelligence updates.

The equipment proposed is based on Racal's existing Lightweight Mission Support System (LMSS), which comprises a carry-on display/processor/disc drive/communications interface unit and a keyboard. LMSS incorporates a 500 MHz DEC Alpha processor (with 256 MB of RAM); a 36 cm, 1024 ¥ 768 pixel high resolution liquid crystal display; and a twin 3.5-inch, 4.3 GB, removable hard disc drive. As applied to the E-3D, AMSS will be linked to the outside world via a high frequency radio, a format that eventually will be replaced by a satellite communications subsystem. The ACE capability will be further enhanced by the availability of a JTIDS situational awareness facility that will provide the commander with a PC-based data link monitoring and recording capability that passively monitors JTIDS/Link 16 networks. UOR 42/99 is a result of the UK's experience during Operation Allied Force and, as of press time, AMSS is scheduled to begin air trials in October or November. AMSS is one of a number of E-3D upgrades currently being pursued that will see the platforms being fitted with the Radar System Improvement Programme package for its AN/APY-2 surveillance radar, a new high frequency communications radio and an enhanced electronic support measures system alongside the ACE capability.