International Report

New EW for UK SF Helicopters

The UK's Ministry of Defence is close to procuring a combined radar and laser warning system from Israeli contractor Elisra Electronics for use aboard the Royal Air Force's eight Chinook Mk 3 Special Forces (SF) support helicopters. The Mk 3 Chinook differs from earlier helicopters of the type acquired by the UK in being based on the CH-47SD model and being fitted with external fuel panniers, a weather radar and refuelling probe for the SF infiltration/extraction role. The Elisra system being mulled over is designated as the SPS-65V-3 and is based on the baseline SPS-65V package that is made up of the 0.7 to 18.0 GHz band SPS-20V low volume radar receiver, the 6.5 to 18.0 GHz SRS-25 superheterodyne radar receiver and the LWS-20 laser warner. Of these, the SRS-25 is used to detect continuous wave, high pulse repetition frequency and low effective radiated power emitters, and applications of the architecture have been supplied to Germany (for use aboard CH-53G helicopters) and Canada (CH-146 Griffon helicopter). Alongside the SPS-65V-3 equipment itself, sources suggest that the UK deal may include appropriate user and maintenance manuals and a support equipment package that includes avionic, electronic warfare and emitter file table bus monitors, a user data file generator, a post-mission data analyser, a memory loader-verifier, a hot mock-up, a laser gun, a field test simulator, a second line test bench and first and second line spares.

Europe Clears the Way for Galileo

Following a 26 March 2002 meeting of the European Transport Council, the European Union has decided to provide funding of E350 million for the Galileo navigation satellite programme. Intended to provide Europe with a European capability, Galileo will be a civilian-owned and run system that will make use of a 30 satellite constellation and will offer (when compared with America's Global Positioning System - GPS) enhanced coverage in the northern hemisphere, a high level of positional accuracy and a reliable and accurate service that is not dominated by military need and will offer uninterrupted access to its customers. To date, the US has worked consistently to prevent the EU going ahead with Galileo on the grounds that it is unnecessary, that it has the potential for mutual interference with the latest enhanced variant of military GPS, that it can not be shut down by the Pentagon and that it has the potential to adversely affect US GPS equipment manufacturers. While America has so far been unable to prevent Europe from going ahead with the project, usually reliable sources suggest that the US may threaten to close off NATO access to GPS in a final attempt to kill off the programme. European officials appear to be confident that America's concerns can be addressed, but in the face of America's current "with us or against us" attitude toward the rest of the world, some analysts conjecture that this may not be possible. As currently structured, Galileo will involve funding from the EU, the European Space Agency and private partners (who will contribute between Û1 and Û20 million depending on company size) and its project development and validation phase will run until 2005. Thereafter, the necessary satellite constellation will be built up during 2006-2007, in time for an operational start up in 2008.

Danes Develop 3-D Threat Warner

Danish electronics contractor Terma is working on what it terms a 3-D audio threat warning system to more effectively alert air crews to imminent missile attack. Developed in conjunction with the University of Aalborg's Acoustic Laboratory, the system processes acquired threat warning data into an audio cue that within a crew member's helmet, appears to have the same geometric relationship to the wearer's ears as that between the threat and its target. Accordingly, a warning of a threat missile approaching from behind and to port would be generated as a tone or spoken message that appears to the wearer to originate from her/his rear and to the left. The system makes use of the human being's inherent all-around ability to monitor sound, establish directions of origin and focus on multiple sound sources simultaneously.

To date, the 3-D threat warning development programme has included a laboratory test in which eight people were subjected to 20 3-D audio threat warnings per subject and with their eyes closed, asked to point in the direction from which they thought the threat was coming. During the experiment, response time was defined as being the time from the start of the audio cue and the moment at which the individual responded to it by indicating a direction. Error angle was defined as the angle between the threat's line of sight and the individual's indication of direction three seconds after the start of the cue. Preliminary results indicated a mean time to response of 0.7 seconds (as against 1.7 seconds for a conventional mono fighter jet audio threat cue) and a mean error angle of 15° (as against one of 40° when using the conventional cue).

The system's development team has already completed development of a 3-D threat warning software application for implementation in Terma's existing Electronic Warfare Management System (EWMS) and to have updated the EWMS's tactical display card in order to accommodate the capability.

Double Launch Puts Japanese/European COMSATS in Orbit

In what satellite manufacturer Boeing Space and Communications describes as its first dual launch in seven years, an Ariane 4 rocket was used to successfully loft the Japanese JCSAT-8 and European ASTRA 3A communications satellites into orbit on 28 March 2002. Of the two, the JSAT Corp.'s (Tokyo, Japan) JCSAT-8 is the 62nd Boeing 601 bus to be delivered and is the seventh satellite JSAT has procured from the company. Operating from a 154° East orbit, JCSAT-8 is noted as providing a broad range of telecommunications services and as carrying a payload made-up of 16 C- (4 to 8 GHz) and 16 Ku-band (12.5 to 18.0 GHz) transponders. For its part, the SES ASTRA (Luxembourg) ASTRA 3A vehicle is the 56th Boeing 376 bus to be delivered and is designed to provide German-speaking customers with high power, direct-to-home broadcast services. As such, it is reported as carrying 20 Ku-band transponders and as operating from a 23.5° East orbital slot. ASTRA 3A is the second model 376 and the 10th satellite that SES ASTRA has ordered from Boeing. During the launch, JCSAT-8 was deployed first, followed minutes later by the ASTRA 3A vehicle.

Philips Leads the Way in the Analogue-to-digital TV Transition

Netherlands contractor Philips Semiconductors is attacking the analogue-to-digital television (TV) market with the launch of its scalable PNX300x Digital One Chip (DOC) 100 Hz/progressive scan integrated circuit (IC) family and has launched what it claims to be the world's smallest logic integrated IC package. Taking these in turn, the PNX300x DOC family is described as being a future-proof, fully digital solution for 100 Hz analogue TV. As such, the range comprises the PNX300x main chip, the PNX3000 companion chip and associated software. A member of the Nexperiaª digital platform, the PNX300x DOC set is billed as making 100 Hz and progressive scan TV cost-effective for mainline analogue TV applications and as providing a smooth transition into integrated digital TV technology. For its part, the company's Depopulated, very thin, Quad Flat-pack No-leads (DQFN) package is designed for use in logic gates and octal ICs that are aimed at the miniaturised electronic products/components market. Billed as being the world's smallest such device, Philips claims that the 14-pin configured DQFN (with a footprint of 2.5 x 3.0 mm) is 75 percent smaller than existing TSSOP packages.