Microwave Journal

International Report

September 1, 2001

International Report

Martin Streetly, International Correspondent

Boeing-IBM Team Claim World's Most Powerful Satellite DCP
A team comprising Boeing Satellite Systems and computer giant IBM claimed to have created the world's most powerful satellite-based, digital communications processor (DCP) for use in a Boeing-built satellite that has been supplied to United Arab Emirates satellite communications provider Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. In creating the application (which is claimed to provide a computing power that is greater than that of 3,000 Pentium III-based personal computers), Boeing notes that it has tapped IBM's advanced custom integrated circuit technology expertise to improve the performance, reliability and cost of such DCPs. The specific Thuraya application is billed as being five times more capable than any previous Boeing digital processor and as moving satellite-based mobile communications technology along the road towards complete viability as an alternative to land-based communications networks.

US-European Team to Define Next-generation SEAPAR
Raytheon Naval and Maritime Integration Systems (Portsmouth, Rhode Island) and Thales Naval Nederland (Hengelo, the Netherlands) have been asked by the NATO SeaSparrow Surface Missile System Project Office to formulate a system definition approach for a next-generation Self-defence Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) Active Phased Array Radar (SEAPAR). The move is described as being the first step in the design, development and production of an X-band (8 to 12.5 GHz) active phased array surveillance and fire control radar to support the ESSM surface-to-air missiles operated by the countries making up NATO's SeaSparrow Consortium.

The envisaged SEAPAR is being designed to match the capabilities of ESSM in advanced threat and raid density scenarios, and takes advantage of technologies developed for Raytheon's active, multifunction AN/SPY-3 sensor and the Thales/EADS/Northern Telecom Active Phased-Array Radar (APAR). Alongside Raytheon and Thales, the SEAPAR programme (full-scale development of which is currently scheduled to begin during 2002) will receive laboratory support from the TNO Physics and Electronics Laboratory in the Netherlands and The John Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory at Laurel, MD. At the time of going to press, the SEAPAR system definition approach phase was expected to last six months and was anticipated to include definition of the high level system requirements and top-level architecture, development of preliminary design and construction plans, and the establishment of schedules and a workshare approach.

US-European Electronics Tie-ups Continue
In the continuing drive for trans-Atlantic integration within the global electronics business, US contractor Northrop Grumman has announced three new European tie-ups in the areas of airborne radars, secondary surveillance radars (SSR) and electronic warfare (EW). Taking these in the order given, Northrop Grumman has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the trans-national European Aeronautic, Defence and Space (EADS) Company covering the marketing of a next-generation common radar solution for US transport aircraft. Here, the package is based around the former's AN/APN-241 aerial delivery radar and the latter's HiVision sensor technology. For its part, HiVision is a frequency-modulated, continuous wave, millimetric radar that is designed for use as a landing aid, and provides runway detection and collision warning capabilities out to a range of 5 km. Under the terms of the MoU, Northrop Grumman will take responsibility for the adaptation, production and support of any US HiVision application.

EADS also features in the cited SSR tie-up where the two companies have signed a teaming agreement that focuses on the introduction of a new standard in cost-effective monopulse SSRs for the international air traffic control market. To be designated as the ATCMS 2000, the new sensor will take the form of a ground-based, dual-channel SSR equipment with a maximum range of 250 nautical miles. As such, the system will provide both terminal and en-route services, and will be able to interrogate and decode aircraft transponders operating in Modes 1, 2, 3/A, C and S. The envisaged architecture will support risk-free migration from monopulse SSR to Mode S functionality and will be upgradable to Modes B, D, 4 and 5. The system is designed for both stand-alone operations and integration with Northrop Grumman's ASR-12 airport surveillance radar.

The remaining deal takes the form of a memorandum of agreement (MoA) between Northrop Grumman and Danish contractor Terma A/S that covers interrelated EW business initiatives. The MoA encompasses Terma's AN/ALQ-213 EW management system, F-16 Pylon Internal Dispenser System (PIDS), Electronic Combat Internal Pylon System (ECIPS) and Modular CounterMeasures Pod (MCMP) together with Northrop Grumman's AN/ALQ-131 and ALQ-162 radar jammers, AN/AAR-54 missile approach warner, AN/AAQ-24(V) directed infra-red countermeasures (DIRCM) system, Wanda laser countermeasures system, MIMS missile warning system, helicopter and integrated EW systems, and the Falcon Edge and Falcon Shield EW systems. Overall the MoA is designed to formalise business arrangements for ongoing programs and the pursuit of future business in the American, European, Middle Eastern and Asian markets.

Raytheon Receives US $20 Million VAFORIT VATCAS Contract
Germany's Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) GmbH has awarded US contractor Raytheon a $20 M plus contract to develop a Very Advanced Air Traffic Control Automation System (VATCAS) for use in the DFS primed Very Advanced Flight data processing Operational Requirement Implementation (VAFORIT) program. Within VAFORIT, VATCAS is noted as providing the system architecture and strategic platform to ensure interoperability and an integral ability to expand in the future. Elsewhere in the program, DFS is providing the VAFORIT displays and data processing architecture, and the effort as a whole will enable Germany's national Air Traffic Control (ATC) system transition from an advanced to a very advanced level of capability as laid down by the European Civil Aviation Conference. Specific VAFORIT benefits are billed as including highly accurate aircraft position information, comprehensive situational awareness and a strip-less ATC environment. In this later context, a strip-less environment refers to ATC functionality without manually logging individual flights on strips as is the current practice. The Raytheon VATCAS being supplied builds on the existing P1 ATC Automation System (ATCAS) that is reported as operating flawlessly since its introduction during 1999.

Russia Signs-up for European Satellite Computers
European space contractor Astrium (a BAE Systems (25 percent ownership)/EADS (75 percent) joint venture) has announced that it has been awarded a Euro 9 million contract to supply a consortium of Russian satellite manufacturer NPO PM and the Russian Satellite Communication Company with five on-board central computers for installation aboard Express AM telecommunications satellites. The deal includes an option for two additional computers and delivery is currently scheduled to take place within the next two years. Astrium describes the processors as being the heart of the Express AM vehicle, and as handling on-board data distribution and the management of precise, in-orbit station keeping.