News from Washington
Pentagon Releases Leading US Military Contractor Rankings for 1999
According to a report issued by the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin Corp., manufacturer of the F-16 and other military aircraft and weapons systems, ranked first among US military contractors in 1999, receiving $12.7 B worth of prime contracts from the Department of Defense (DoD). Boeing Co., manufacturer of the F-15 fighter, placed second in the rankings with prime contracts totaling $10.9 B followed by Raytheon Corp., General Dynamics Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and United Technologies Corp. The top six 1999 defense contractors held the same positions in the 1998 rankings. Advanced electronic system provider Litton Industries Inc. jumped from eighth to seventh place with contracts totaling $2.1 B in 1999, compared to $1.6 B in 1998. General Electric Co. finished eighth ($1.7 B) followed by TRW Inc. and Textron Inc. who tied for ninth place with $1.4 B in contracts. Overall, DoD contracts awarded in 1999 to US contractors totaled $125 B, compared to $118.1 B in 1998.
Space Mission to Produce New Topographical Earth Map
According to the Associated Press, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is attempting to produce new topographical maps of the earth by extending a radar antenna boom from the Endeavour space shuttle. The 197-foot radar antenna boom will be the longest rigid structure ever deployed in space, allowing scientists to measure the highs and lows of the earth’s terrain with exceptional accuracy for environmental and military purposes. Once fully deployed, NASA expects that scientists will be able to map more than 70 percent of the earth’s terrain, collecting enough data to occupy 13,500 compact discs. A 200-foot steel, titanium and plastic mast, with the radar antenna boom anchored to the shuttle’s cargo bay, will be deployed to capture more complete global snapshots of the earth. The mast comprises a series of stiff, stacked cubes measuring 1.05 m (3.5 ft) in diameter and can be folded up inside a 2.7 m can. The radar equipment, including the billboard antenna, weighs 13 tons and will scan the earth in 225 km swaths with radar return signals received by the cargo bay and boom antennas. By combining images acquired 59 m apart in space, scientists expect to capture three-dimensional snapshots of the earth’s surface, providing nine times more topographic data than currently available to scientists. Topographic measurements are expected to be taken every 29.4 m (98 ft) with elevation readings accurate to approximately 15.6 m (52 ft). A smaller, simpler version of the radar system was launched twice on the Endeavour in 1994.
New Wireless Networking Technologies Demonstrated
Rockwell Science Center, Thousand Oaks, CA, has successfully demonstrated micromachined silicon relays and wireless networking technologies during the space flights of the two smallest satellites ever released into orbit. (The picosatellites weighed less than one-half pound each and measured 4.0" ´ 3.0" ´ 1.0".) The micro relays and networking technologies are expected to significantly reduce the size, power and cost of future satellites used for applications such as telecommunications and weather imaging. The picosatellites were launched into space from the Stanford University Orbiting Picosat Automated Launcher, a satellite platform that flew aboard an Air Force rocket launched from Vandenberg AFB on January 26. With funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Aerospace Corp. acted as the system integrator for the picosatellite mission; DARPA also sponsored the creation of many of the underlying technologies.
As part of a series of unique experiments, the picosatellites communicated with each other via a low power RF link and a ground station to exchange information obtained from a series of simple onboard circuits. The circuits, which were developed with DARPA funding, tested the reliability of micro-electromechanical systems in space and probed the low earth orbit environment. The satellite networking technologies employed low cost digital cordless telephone technology modified for data communications and networking. Technologies derived from Rockwell’s wireless integrated networked sensor (WINS) development programs also were utilized for the first time. WINS systems combine digital cordless telephone technology with data processing capabilities, multihopping networking protocols and actuation devices in order to achieve scalable networks for automation monitoring and control.
US Navy Selects Motorola Digital Modular Radio
Motorola Inc. has been awarded a $48 M contract by the US Navy Space and Naval Warfare Command (SPAWAR) for the manufacture of an all-digital, software-programmable radio under the Digital Modular Radio (DMR) program. The Navy selected the Motorola DMR for shipboard and shore installations after the successful completion of competitive field trials at the Navy SPAWAR Systems Center in Charleston, SC. The Motorola units demonstrated the key features of reprogrammability, operation with existing radios and mechanical endurance for challenging environments aboard surface ships and submarines. Their fully software-reprogrammable capability enables radio operators to point and click via an interface that is similar to a commercial PC, allowing the setup and alteration of characteristics such as bandwidth, modulation, error control, security and waveforms.
The Motorola DMR will allow the Navy to train operators on one platform, replacing numerous existing systems that are designed specifically to communicate with other armed services, the US Coast Guard and NATO allies. Another key feature of the DMR is the embeddable Advanced INFOSEC Machine, whch recently received Type 1 certification from the National Security Agency. An onboard Secure Operating System allows simultaneous operation on multiple channels using different algorithms, potentially replacing many standard encryption functions with a single device. The Motorola DMR also will offer the Navy the expanded capability of communicating with civilian public safety and law enforcement agencies by simply downloading and installing appropriate frequency and waveform software, and will be compliant with the DoD’s Joint Tactical Radio System once the architecture is defined. The DMR is part of the Motorola Wireless Information Transfer System product line and employs commercial standard processors and software to ensure low cost of ownership and extended product life. The agreement is valued at approximately $368 M if the Navy exercises all of its options in the Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract.
Naval Solid-state Radar Development to be Examined
Lockheed Martin Corp. and Alenia Marconi Systems SpA of Italy have entered into a teaming agreement to study joint development of an active solid-state S/C-band phased-array radar for applications in the worldwide surface ship marketplace. The agreement is expected to initiate a four-month-long feasibility study in which the two companies will collaboratively identify top-level requirements and architectures for a single-faced active solid-state rotating phased-array radar and project a basic configuration for future development. In addition, the study will evaluate the use of S/C-band active solid-state phased-array radars for other applications. Pending the results of the study and subsequent extensions of the agreement to follow-on phases, the companies intend to explore potential domestic applications of the radar as well as its possible use by foreign navies. In addition, the feasibility of a four-fixed-face active solid-state S/C-band phased-array radar design to support the Anti-Air Warfare and theater ballistic missile defense missions will be examined. The joint study is considered the first step in the development and production of next-generation radars.