News from Washington

Army Demonstrates RAP RF Transmission System

The Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) has demonstrated a new radio, which is considered the cornerstone of its five-year digital battlefield communications advanced technology program. Demonstrated as part of the Joint Space-based Common Operation Picture Enhancement experiment conducted in Colorado Springs, CO, the Radio Access Point (RAP) RF transmission system performs wireless transmission at a data rate of 45 Mbps from a fixed location and at 15 Mbps from a moving platform.

RAP consists of a series of phased-array antennas and high capacity trunk radios in standard command post shelters mounted aboard high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles. A mobile 15 Mbps data rate permits mobile users to transmit information in an operational situation, and simultaneous transmission of real-time video, databases and voice communications can be accommodated. An airborne CECOM C-12 serving as a communications relay during the exercise provided beyond line-of-sight communications to the tactical operations center, three RAP vehicles and a scout vehicle. Ultimately, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or satellites are expected to carry the airborne communications relay equipment for the system.

The RAPs were equipped with tracking mechanisms permitting the antennas to electronically track the aircraft in flight and maintain the communications links. A software package was added to the RAP system to automatically repoint antennas on target since UAVs would constantly transmit their locations to ground stations. The demonstration covered a range of only six miles because of the necessity of keeping the C-12 at a relatively low altitude. CECOM predicts that longer ranges needed in practical situations will be served easily by satellite relays.

Secretary of Defense Directs Effort to Field Operationally Effective UAVs

US Secretary of Defense William Cohen has issued a memorandum citing the Department of Defense’s (DoD) contributions to information superiority and reduction of pilot force risk, which can be made by operationally effective UAVs. The memo notes a strong commitment by the DoD to the successful development of such UAVs, comparing the present UAV situation to that of the high altitude reconnaissance manned aircraft program of 40 years ago when a strong commitment to that effort led to a successful conclusion. The DoD proposed that sensor and technology processing progress should provide the opportunity to serve the ever-increasing demand for information and a program to “develop, acquire and integrate unmanned airborne reconnaissance aircraft into the force structure at a rapid, but prudent, pace” should be pursued aggressively.

Suggestions for fielding operationally effective UAVs include concentrating on the requirements and acquisition process for Global Hawk to ensure that a Concept of Operations and an Operational Requirements Document are developed, using the Predator Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration to expedite fielding operationally significant capabilities, bringing the Predator to full operational capability to satisfy current needs and  supporting service exercises and deployments. In addition, integrating and supporting joint systems such as the common data link in the UAV fleet, allocating resources for sustaining and improving fielded UAV systems, and offering and identifying service policies incentives to personnel involved with UAV operations are suggested. The memo also recommends discussing UAV programs with US allies to identify common problems, determining acceptable mission performance and assuring interoperability as well as the effective use of investments, which have created a superior manufacturing base.

The value of the established UAV industrial base is recognized by the recommendation that sufficient funds should be provided for its maintenance. In that interest, the consideration of near-term limited production of vehicles to support the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Airborne Communication Node program is likely.

Raytheon to Supply UK IFF Equipment

Raytheon Co. has been selected to supply identification friend or foe (IFF) systems for the Matra British Aerospace Rapier air defense system as part of the UK Ministry of Defence Successor IFF (SIFF) program. SIFF is a multiphase program to modernize the Ministry of Defence’s land, sea and air platforms with advanced Mark XII/Mode S-compatible IFF systems. The award, to be granted during the first half of 2000, will comprise three contracts with a total value of more than $43 M.

In addition to work on the Rapier Field Standard “C” ground missile platform, Raytheon Systems Ltd.’s Harlow, Essex, facility, one of two contractors involved in the initial SIFF integration study and planning phase (along with Raytheon System Co.’s Identification Systems, Baltimore, MD), has been chosen to supply the Royal Air Force Defense Version F3 Tornado fleet upgrade.

During the SIFF integration and planning study, Raytheon developed integration solutions for 42 UK platforms. These solutions and the IFF equipment suite are serving as the baseline for the full development production phase, which will include interrogators, transponders, cryptographic equipment and platform installation. System installation is scheduled to begin this year.

Lockheed Martin to Develop NTW Ballistic Missile Defense Radar

As reported in Defense Daily, Lockheed Martin has received a contract valued at $125 M from the US Navy to develop a high powered discriminator radar prototype for Navy Theater Wide (NTW) ballistic missile defense. The company’s Moorestown, NJ facility is scheduled to develop, manufacture and test the prototype and complete the work by December 2004.

The high powered discriminator radars will enable Aegis ships and the Navy’s future Theater Air Dominance Cruiser (CG-21) to detect and track medium- and long-range ballistic missiles outside the earth’s atmosphere. NTW will use a modified Raytheon Standard Missile (SM-3) as well as shipboard weapon system upgrades and command and control improvements. A study conducted by the Navy recommended that Lockheed Martin’s existing AN/SPY Aegis radar with signal processor and computer program upgrades could be used to meet near-term NTW Block I requirements. The study also indicated that NTW Block II requirements could be satisfied only with a high powered discriminator derived from the Raytheon ground-based radar used in the Army’s Theater High Altitude Area Defense system by Lockheed Martin. NTW Block II, a full capability for intercepting ballistic missiles beyond the earth’s atmosphere, is expected by 2010.

GBU-15s to be Equipped with GPS

Defense Daily has reported that two contracts with a total value of $7 M have been awarded to Applied Sciences Engineering Inc. and Raytheon Co. to upgrade existing stocks of GBU-15 optically guided bombs with Global Positioning System (GPS) all-weather guidance. Each contractor will use a different concept to outfit the GBU-15s with a GPS guidance kit similar to that used on the Boeing AGM-130, but intends to fully share system data. The new guidance kits will provide the GBU-15s with an all-weather capability equal to that of the AGM-130, but with a shorter stand-off range of 15 nautical miles. A second phase of the advanced GBU-15 program will add improved all-weather capability for between 1200 and 1500 rounds with first deliveries expected within seven months of budget approval. The first completed units were expected by July 1.