International Report

Boeing Wins NATO AWACS Upgrade Programme

US aerospace contractor Boeing has been awarded a $24 M contract to procure long-lead items for use in NATO's Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft Mid-Term Modernisation Programme (MTMP). Proposed MTMP elements include the introduction of flat panel displays for the platform's mission system operators, a new mission computer architecture, the introduction of a digital communications suite, the introduction of an improved Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) capability and the introduction of an enhanced, Global Positioning System (GPS)-based navigation capability. Looking at some of these in more detail, the planned display upgrade will offer a Windows-like working environment that will support increased interaction between the operator and the mission system, thereby enhancing overall situational awareness. For its part, the upgraded mission computer architecture will facilitate improved multi-sensor integration, enhanced system reliability, and improved target tracking and identification. The application will also include automatic data recording and replay capabilities, and is an open architecture that will readily accept future hard and software insertions.

The proposed digital communications suite is designed to improve onboard communications management, provide over-the-horizon satellite communications facilities and be better able to operate with the new NATO members in former Eastern Europe. The IFF upgrade includes both transponders and interrogators, and is aimed at making the aircraft compatible with future international air traffic control requirements. At the time of going to press, an MTMP test-bed was reported to be undergoing flight trials and a full scale production/installation MTMP contract covering the remainder of the NATO AWACS fleet was expected to be awarded during 2002.

Thales Wins Naval RES Contract

The prime contractor on the UK's Type 45 anti-air warfare destroyer programme (BAE Systems) has awarded UK-based Thales Sensors a £20 million contract covering the development and delivery of radar electronic support (RES) systems for installation aboard the first three Type 45 destroyers to be delivered. Originally pitched against submissions from Lockheed Martin (believed to be based on the ES element of the AN/SLY-2 architecture) and BAE Systems, the new equipment is described as incorporating legacy hard- and software from Thales' existing Outfit UAT and Sabre systems together with an all new signal processing and emitter identification package. Here, the signal processor used makes use of a graph theoretic processing algorithm-based technique and has been jointly developed by Thales and the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL). The system's emitter library matching capability is also a DSTL development and is based on the laboratory's Palantir technology demonstrator. Other system features include an Outfit DLH offboard active decoy interface and knowledge of the impact co-located systems such as the Type 45's Sampson radar and Scot satellite communications system. A key element of the new architecture is a reduction in its false alarm rate in dense littoral signals environments and, as currently scheduled, the system will be first installed aboard HMS Daring during 2004 for trials, with commissioning following in the second half of 2007. Subsequent to the Batch 1 installation programme (HMS Daring, Diamond and Dauntless), the Type 45 RES equipment is expected to be enhanced (including the introduction of array and intra-pulse receivers) for subsequent construction batches.

Poland Introduces New Airborne Command Post

The Polish Army has fielded the first of four locally developed and produced W-3PPD Gipsowka airborne command post helicopters. Issued to the service's Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland-based 25th Brygada Kawalerii Powietrznej (Air Cavalry Brigade), the new capability is reported as having been developed by a consortium of the Instytut Techniczny Wojsk Lotniczych (Polish Air Force Institute of Technology), the Centrum Informatyki (the Automation Centre of the Polish General Staff) and the Wojskowa Akademi Techniczna (the Polish Military Academy of Technology) and as centering on the four-man Grupa Operacyjna Dowodzenia (GOD - Operational Command Group) command, control and communications module.

In more detail, the system is understood to include a Sun Sparc Ultra server (running Sun's Solaris operating system), a Military Standard (MIL-STD) 1553B databus, four 16 in (41 cm) flat panel colour displays, a Thales TOTEM 300 inertial navigation system, a single channel radio access communications mode (designated as JRS) and Thales 3500 High Frequency (HF - 3 to 30 MHz) and RRC-9500 Ultra High Frequency (UHF - 300 MHz to 3 GHz) communications radios. For self-defence, the vehicle is noted as being capable of carrying various forms of weaponry (mounted on fuselage pylons) and as being fitted with an electronic warfare suite made up of a Thales TDS-H radar warning receiver, and PRH28DE chaff and infra-red decoy flare dispensers. At the time of going to press, sources were suggesting that the fourth W-3PPD platform would be delivered during 2006 and that the system as a whole had a unit price of $6.6 M.

ASTOR to Get Hybrid Antenna

The UK's Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) will incorporate a hybrid antenna that incorporates a number of active transmitter modules to increase its output power, improve its reliability and enhance its growth potential. Derived from the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System (ASARS) - 2 sensor that is installed aboard the US Air Force's U-2S high altitude reconnaissance aircraft, the ASTOR radar (which is scheduled to enter service during the 2005-2007 period) is reported to have passed its preliminary design review and to be on track for a critical design review during the first quarter of 2002. The described ASTOR antenna array is being produced by UK contractor BAE Systems. Elsewhere in the programme, an aerodynamic prototype of the Global Express ASTOR airframe has been test flown at altitudes of up to 15,100 m. Here, the configuration includes a ventral radar antenna canoe fairing, a dorsal satellite communications antenna radome, ventral stabilising fins, a vertical fin extension and a modified tailcone that is understood to be tailored to accommodate threat warning system antennas and the launcher for an active towed radar decoy.

Europeans Team on New Smart Card Technology

European contractors Philips Semiconductors and Luxembourg-headquarted Gemplus have teamed to make use of the former's SmartXA™ second generation smart card microcontroller in the latter's multi-application Java Card. Designed as a multi-application platform for the wireless communications market, the Java Card SmartXAª application is described as being a 16-bit architecture that incorporates high levels of security and support for public key encryption. The architecture used is noted as being true 16-bit (thereby enabling the use of a wide range of interpreter-based languages and open software platforms) and as featuring an enhanced memory configuration that incorporates 64K of electronically erasable programmable read-only memory, 208K of read-only memory and 7K of random access memory in 0.18 m technology. Security features are reported as including an enhanced, on-chip, hardware firewall (providing separation and integrity of data and applications), a 32-bit FameX public key cryptography co-processor, a high-speed triple DES co-processor and a true random number generator.