International Report

GSS Launches GPS Y2K and Week 1024 Readiness Tester

UK contractor Global Simulation Systems (GSS) Ltd. has launched a low cost test unit designed to facilitate the monitoring of Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers for year 2000 (Y2K) compliance and week 1024 rollover readiness. The STR4775 system takes the form of a single-channel waveform generator that produces either GPS L1 C/A code or space-based augmentation system signals. Integration into test environments is via a standard IBM personal computer architecture, and the package offers control of all aspects of signal generation, including power level, Doppler, time of simulation and signal/message content. STR4775 can be accessed in a stand-alone interactive mode using Windows-based software or in a fully integrated mode using supplied C programming libraries. The equipment also supports synchronisation to other systems via trigger and frequency standard inputs and a 1 PPS output. In addition to Y2K and week 1024 testing, STR4775 applications include parametric evaluation and prototype transmission and multipath-free signal generation at digital GPS reference stations.

Joint Venture Formed to Define Standards for Next-generation Communications

US and European communication powerhouses British Aerospace Defence Systems, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, ITT, Marconi Communications and Thomson-CSF Communications have formed the TAC ONE joint venture to address the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) tactical communications (TACOMS) post-2000 programme. The TACOMS post-2000 programme, which has been endorsed by nine nations, aims to define a new set of NATO standardisation agreements (STANAG) for tactical communications equipment expected to enter service after 2005. The joint venture has already established agreements with APEC in Spain, EID in Portugal, and Aselsan and NETAS in Turkey to facilitate participation once those nations endorse the programme.

The TACOMS post-2000 effort is based on the Committee of NATO Armaments Directors’ support of next-generation architecture recommendations drafted by the Alliance’s PG/6 working group. In broad terms, the new set of STANAGs is intended to cover all aspects of future tactical communications from front-line systems to area and strategic capabilities as well as include definitions of the interfaces required to tie together ground, air and seaborne equipment. Other goals of the TAC ONE joint venture include enhancing interoperability, broadening the acceptance of standards within NATO and the wider world defence community, maximising the exploitation of civil equipment and technology in military applications, reducing procurement costs and maximising industrial cooperation.

Germany Selects Swedish Radar Warning System for Tornado Upgrade

Germany has selected Swedish contractor CelsiusTech Electronics to supply a new radar warning system for retrofit aboard Luftwaffe (Air Force) and Marineflieger (Naval Air Arm) Tornado strike aircraft. Forming the second stage of an ongoing midlife upgrade effort, the new radar warning system is expected to be introduced in 2001. Other elements of the second stage include the introduction of a new defensive aids computer, a forward-looking infrared sensor, a missile approach warning system and provision for a new day/night reconnaissance pod. Detailed contract negotiations with the effort’s prime contract, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, were scheduled to begin this summer.

Though specific details relating to the new system have not yet been disclosed, the system is believed to be a wide open instantaneous frequency measuring equipment similar to the one CelsiusTech is producing for the defensive aids suite fitted to Sweden’s JAS 39 Gripen multirole combat aircraft. CelsiusTech recently demonstrated its 1997/98-vintage 2 to 18 GHz AR 961 combined radar warning and electronic support system. Known to have been test flown aboard a Swedish C-130 transport aircraft, performance specifications of the AR 961 include a direction-finding accuracy of 3.5° RMS using a six-port antenna array and a narrowband radio frequency accuracy of 1 MHz RMS. Dynamic range is 60 dB and a six-port application of the system weighs 33 kg.

Factory Purchase May Revive Semiconductor Industry in UK

UK telecommunications component manufacturer Filtronics has raised hopes that semiconductor manufacturing in the northeastern UK may be revived following the company’s purchase of the mothballed Fujitsu facility at Newton Aycliffe, Durham. Closed in 1998, the 310,000-square-foot plant was built at a cost of £480 M in 1995 and left Fujitsu responsible for partially reimbursing the UK government for the development grants used to fund its construction. The loss of the facility, as well as the closure of a Siemens-run fabrication in north Tyneside, had pointed to the collapse of semiconductor manufacturing in Britain. While welcomed as a reversal of this trend, the acquisition has been somewhat tarnished by the company’s disappointing full-year results, which have triggered a 20 percent drop in the value of its shares. While emphasizing the success of its UK operations, Filtronics blames the poor performance of its US operations for the losses and is looking at substantial profitability in 2000.

CoolRunner™ Sale Scheduled for Completion

As of press time, US contractor Xilinx Inc. was scheduled to purchase Philips Semiconductors’ CoolRunner complex programmable logic device (CPLD) business, including CoolRunner technology and the associated XPLA Professional Suite™ of design tools. Philips Semiconductors is expected to retain the right to incorporate the fast zero power technology used in CoolRunner CPLDs in embedded applications, such as customised application-specific integrated circuits. CoolRunner products will continue to be manufactured at Philips’ European wafer fabrications and by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. At the time of the initial announcement, Philips and Xilinx had also agreed to work on the joint development of system-on-chip applications.

The motivation behind the sale is believed to be Philips’ desire to enhance its focus on what it sees as its core businesses, namely consumer product devices, telecommunications, automotive devices and discrete logic and microcontroller products. San Jose, CA-based Xilinx focuses on completely programmable logic solutions that include advanced integrated circuitry, software design tools, predefined system functions as cores and field engineering support. Xilinx is also noted as the originator of the field programmable gate array.

UK Awarded Transportable JTIDS Management System

UK contractor Racal has been awarded a £12.8 M contract to supply a transportable Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) network management facility. The JTIDS system, an implementation of the NATO Link 16 standard of data link, is a high capacity, secure, countermeasures-resistant data and voice link. The air-transportable network management facility is designed to support all stages of JTIDS use from initial net design and planning to real-time, dynamic management of functioning networks. The equipment is unique among all other JTIDS/Link 16 management systems, which are incapable of managing real-time change within an operating net.