International Report

Greece Signs Up for ERIEYE AEW&C Radar

Following a December 1998 announcement that Greece had selected an Embraer EMB-145 airframe fitted with Ericsson's ERIEYE radar and an Ericsson/Thomson-CSF North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-compatible mission suite to fulfill its outstanding airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft requirement, Ericsson has announced that a formal contract covering the supply of four systems has been signed. Based on the EMB-145SA platform that Embraer developed for Brazil's Sistema de Vigilancia da Amazonia (SIVAM) region surveillance programme, the Greek EMB-145s will feature a revised mission workstation format, Thomson-CSF's DR 3000 electronic support system and NATO-compatible communications and identification friend-or-foe subsystems. The ERIEYE radar is also in service aboard the Swedish air force's S 100B airborne early warning aircraft, and the EMB-145/ERIEYE combination continues to be offered to a number of ongoing AEW&C programmes. As of press time, the first Greek system is scheduled for delivery during 2002.

Russian Radar Technology Showcased

The electronics industry in Russia has highlighted new radar technology at a number of recent trade shows, with emphasis on applications in the areas of combat aircraft fire control and missile guidance. At the Paris Air Show held in June, Tikhomirov Scientific Research Institute of Russia displayed its Epaulet phased-array antenna design that is intended to act as part of an interface subsystem between Western fire-control radars and Russian air-to-air missiles. The range of missiles involved includes the R-27 (AA-10 Alamo) and R-77 (AA-12 Adder), and the equipment takes the form of guidance antennas located on the sides of the host aircraft's fuselage or its wing roots.

At the Moscow Air Show held in August, Russian contractor Phazotron-NIIR displayed a prototype of its Sokol passive phased-array radar that is intended for use aboard multirole combat aircraft such as the Sukhoi S-37. Fitted with a 1 m diameter antenna array, Sokol utilises a novel antenna element arrangement that is claimed to significantly reduce costs. The radar is equipped with a single 2.5 kW liquid-cooled transmitter (an arrangement that could be superseded by a twin transmitter/single antenna at a later stage in its development). The system weighs approximately 270 kg and provides a detection range of 180 km against a moderate size radar cross-section target. In addition, the company has developed a low weight (75 kg) variant of the basic architecture designated the Pharaon system. The Pharaon system has a detection range of approximately 70 km and is intended for use aboard aircraft such as the Su-27 and Su-33.

Chapter 11 Filings Delay MSC Start-up

Following Iridium's filing for US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the mobile satellite communications (MSC) sector suffered a second blow when ICO Global Communications filed Chapter 11 on August 27. Prior to filing for bankruptcy protection, ICO had raised $3.1 B to fund its 12-satellite constellation and required an additional $1.6 B to launch consumer services during the fourth quarter of 2000. However, the failure of a recent rights issue, the need to raise $600 M to meet immediate financial commitments and inconclusive refinancing negotiations between ICO and its major investors are believed to be the main drivers behind the company's request for court protection. European analysts also have suggested that poor marketing, high handset prices and increasing investor scepticism about the validity of the MSC concept are major factors behind the demise of both companies.

Australia Acquires AMSTAR and UK GPS Simulator

As part of its Project Ninox night-fighting, surveillance and target acquisition system upgrade programme, the Australian army has purchased 61 examples of the Australian Man-portable Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar (AMSTAR) variant of Racal Defence Electronics' J-band (10 to 20 GHz) MSTAR sensor, which will replace its existing RASIT systems. AMSTAR leverages technology from the UK's MSTAR mid-life update effort and differs from the existing set in a number of respects, including the type of man-machine interface used and the detection range offered. In Australian service, AMSTAR will be used in the all-weather target detection and classification role, and a percentage of the new sensors are expected to be installed on the service's ASLAV-S wheeled armoured reconnaissance vehicles. The total programme value is $32.5 M and deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2001.

Australia's Department of Defence also has acquired a Global Positioning System (GPS) simulator from UK contractor Global Simulation Systems Ltd. Computer based, the new architecture accurately replicates signals from the entire 24-satellite GPS constellation as well as those from the Russian GLONASS satellite navigation system and a number of the augmentation systems currently being proposed for use with GPS. The new simulator was scheduled for installation at the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation's Tactical Surveillance Systems Division in Salisbury, South Australia in February 2000.

Rohde & Schwarz Launches New Antenna System

German contractor Rohde & Schwarz has launched a new antenna test system aimed primarily at the mobile telephone industry. The TS9970 measures the characteristics of integrated handset antennas via their auxiliary variables. The test item is mounted on a positioning system that can rotate in both the horizontal and vertical planes and measure the antenna's gain, sensitivity and three-dimensional radiation pattern. To simulate user impact on test pieces, the mounting assembly can be combined with an artificial head or body, with the entire measurement run performed in an anechoic chamber. Parameter measurements are performed automatically at given angular increments with the processed results displayed in either tabular or graphic form. The TS9970 is also suitable for use with a range of radio communications systems that use integral antennas including radio-controlled central locking systems for cars or wireless networks used with PCs.

Smart Label®Alliance Formed

Netherlands contractor Philips Semiconductors Inc. and Japanese automation specialist The Omron Corp. have entered into an agreement to work on the latest generation of smart label technology. Here, radio frequency transponders andread/write memories are laminated between layers of paper or plastic to produce low cost, consumable labels that can store information relating to a product, manufacturer or logistic process and transmit it to an appropriate read/write device at a rate of approximately 30 labels per second. More importantly, the reader and the label do not have to be in direct line-of-sight contact with each other. Under the terms of the agreement, Philips will supply Omron with smart label ICs that will work with Omron's range of 13.56 MHz label readers and transponders. The resultant technology package is suitable for all emerging applications including airport baggage handling, parcel tracking, library tracking and retail logistics. An Omron 13.56 MHz baggage label reader has been tested by British Airways and the company is currently testing retail and express parcel applications with smart labels containing Philips ICs.