Microwave Journal

DARPA Selects BAE Systems to Build Powerful Next-Generation Advanced Electronics

January 28, 2020

BAE Systems was awarded an $8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to develop the next-generation of mixed-signal electronics to enable new Department of Defense (DoD) capabilities, such as high capacity and robust communications, radars and precision sensors.

DARPA’s Technologies for Mixed mode Ultra-Scaled Integrated Circuits (T-MUSIC) program will integrate high performance RF analog electronics and advanced digital electronics on the same wafer to create disruptive RF mixed-mode ICs.

“T-MUSIC will incorporate analog and digital signals on a single chip for high performance data converters and digital processing and intelligence,” said Chris Rappa, product line director for RF, Electronic Warfare and advanced electronics at FAST Labs™.

The technology to be developed by T-MUSIC will combine advanced SiGe with advanced CMOS to enable ultra-wide bandwidth, high spurious-free dynamic range and fine data converter resolution with a high effective number of bits.

BAE Systems’ FAST Labs research and development team will work with program foundries to design and develop wafer-scale technology on a silicon foundry platform, leading to U.S.-based production of next-generation DoD electronics.

BAE Systems will support T-MUSIC with personnel based at the company’s facilities in Merrimack, New Hampshire; Lexington, Massachusetts; and Manassas, Virginia. The program (contract FA8650-19-C-7935) is planned to complete by December 2023.

DARPA Motivation

Recognizing that the DoD has performance demands that exceed the capabilities of the commercial world, such as speed, fidelity, capacity and precision, DARPA envisioned the T-MUSIC program to create disruptive RF mixed-mode technologies which can improve the situational awareness and survivability of the warfighter.

Possible next-generation capabilities include a combination of wide spectral coverage, high resolution, large dynamic range and high information processing bandwidth. Since the services increasingly rely on electronic sensors in highly congested environments, these capabilities can help systems cut through electronic signal clutter and provide other “leap-forward” and mission critical performance. The technology developed by T-MUSIC could be integrated into electronic warfare, communications, precision munitions and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.

The T-MUSIC contract adds to BAE Systems’ advanced electronics portfolio and follows years of investment from various programs with the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), U.S. Army, and DARPA. Previous DARPA programs were the CONverged Collaborative Elements for RF Task Operations (CONCERTO) and Radio Frequency Field Programmable Gate Arrays (RF-FPGA) programs.