International Report

Alcatel to Deliver Afghanistan's New GSM Network

The Telecom Development Company Afghanistan (TDCA) has signed a contract for the supply of a complete solution for GSM infrastructure and services, including the deployment of microwave radio and carrier-class transmission solutions. The system is already operational in Kabul under the commercial name of Roshan and will cover the five main cities of Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad and Kunduz by the end of 2003.

Under the terms of the contract, Alcatel is supplying TDCA with its Evolium™ solution, which encompasses a radio base station subsystem (BSS) and a core network subsystem (NSS), including a mobile switching centre (MSC). When completed the network will include an intelligent network platform for value-added services such as voice mail service (VMS) and a short message service centre (SMS-C). To carry high capacity traffic, the network will also deploy microwave radio and carrier-class transmission solutions, both managed by Alcatel's integrated transport network management platform. The network will also encompass the company's VSAT connections for both domestic and international communications giving Roshan the possibility to take advantage of the end-to-end capability of Alcatel.

e2v Acquisition Gets Into Gear

In a move to position itself as a leading supplier of microwave components to the automotive industry e2v technologies has announced the purchase of the Microwave Sensors Business (MSB) from Dynex Semiconductor (Lincoln, UK). Both e2v and the MSB are specialist component suppliers to the expanding automotive electronics industry.

The MSB products utilise radar techniques for vehicle security systems whereas e2v's strength is in the design and manufacture of microwave components and subsystems for adaptive cruise control (ACC) radar, which is rapidly becoming available on a broad range of vehicles. The Microwave Sensors Business will be relocated to the e2v technologies site in Lincoln, UK.

In addition to the purchase, e2v is making significant investment in research and development activity to position itself as a premier supplier of high technology products to the automotive sector. Keith Attwood, the company's CEO, commented, "As existing suppliers to the automotive market, the synergy between our automotive business and MSB is immediately apparent and this acquisition will further enhance our footprint in this sector, confirming e2v as a major supplier of microwave sensors to the automotive industry."

4G Research Centre for Beijing

In order to research and promote the advancement of mobile communication technologies for fourth-generation (4G) and beyond, NTT DoCoMo of Japan will establish a wholly owned subsidiary - DoCoMo Communications Laboratories Beijing Co. Capitalized at US$5.3 M, it will be set up by the end of 2003.

China has aggressively committed to 4G research and development, and is expected to evolve the requisite new standards. Therefore, DoCoMo expects the laboratory to promote advanced mobile communications technology in both China and Japan in line with the joint statement issued at the People's Republic of China-Japan-Republic of Korea Information and Telecommunication Ministerial Meeting held last September.

Project Soothsayer - Predictions for UK MoD EW Programme

Looking to the future, Lockheed Martin UK has been appointed by the UK Ministry of Defence as preferred supplier for Project Soothsayer, the next-generation electronic warfare (EW) programme for British land forces. The contract is expected to sustain and create up to 120 high tech jobs in the UK.

Worth in excess of £130 M, Soothsayer will provide integrated electronic support measures (ESM) and electronic countermeasures (ECM) capability for the British Army and Royal Marines. The system will intercept and monitor many types of enemy communications or signals in real-time, including radar, multi-frequency emissions and other electronic data. The system will give commanders better intelligence data over a wider spectrum, along with location information - with accuracy previously unavailable. Mobile and vehicle-mounted, Soothsayer will enable front-line forces to rapidly deploy the capability. Future upgrades will integrate the system with airborne platforms for enhanced network-enabled capability.

Commenting on the appointment, Steve Ramsey, vice president and general manager, Aerospace Solutions, Lockheed Martin Corp., said, "We are delighted the MoD has selected the Lockheed Martin team to provide British land forces with the world's most advanced electronic warfare capability." He continued, "Our Soothsayer team combines extremely advanced UK and US technology with proven systems integration and programme management skills. Together we will provide the MoD with a solution that is effective, affordable, supportable and low risk."

Chelton Acquires Thales Antennas

It has been announced that Chelton Ltd., a Cobham group company, has acquired 100 percent of the shares in Thales Antennas. The acquisition follows a restructuring by Thales whereby the antenna operations will be concentrated at the Southampton site in the UK, which Chelton has now taken over. The company will now trade under its previous name of Racal Antennas Ltd. and will target growth in its traditional defence marketplace as well as retaining activities in the telecommunications infrastructure market.

Alongside Chelton's existing subsidiary, European Antennas Ltd., Racal Antennas has a long legacy of supplying land and vehicular communications antennas and masts to the British and overseas armies, and is the selected supplier of such equipment to General Dynamics UK for the UK's Bowman radio programme.

The acquisition continues Chelton's recent expansion into Army communications systems following the acquisition last year of BAE Systems' land vehicular intercom business, now operating as Chelton Defence Communications.

Second Defence Technology Centre is Launched

As a result of a competition, which was successfully won by a consortium of BAE Systems Avionics Group, Thales Defence UK Ltd., Roke Manor Research and Filtronic Plc., the second Defence Technology Centre (DTC) to be established by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) through the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has been launched. The electro-magnetic remote sensing (EMRS) DTC will operate for the next three years and will deploy £15 M of research funding over that period, which will be matched by the defence industry partners.

Commenting on the initiative, John Roulston, technical director with BAE Systems Avionics Group and chairman of the EMRS DTC supervisory board, said, "BAE Systems Avionics Group is delighted to be formally launching the DTC in collaboration with our research partners." He continued, "The creation of the EMRS DTC is a reflection of a modern policy for research which will lead to growing collaboration between the UK defence industry, SME and academia for the mutual benefit of all partners."