DARPA seeks to speed RF and microwave array development for radar, comms, and SIGINT

Posted by John Keller

ARLINGTON, Va., 16 May 2013. U.S. military researchers are asking industry to find new ways of shortening the time it takes to develop, deploy, and upgrade RF and microwave arrays for communications, signals intelligence (SIGINT), radar, and electronic warfare.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., have released a solicitation (DARPA-BAA-13-26) for the Arrays at Commercial Timescales (ACT) program, which seeks to move beyond the traditional specialized and time-consuming array design process and focus on new ways of developing electromagnetic arrays.

The DARPA ACT program focuses on three technology areas. The first seeks to realize a common hardware module that can be applied broadly to many disparate array functions. The second seeks to develop a reconfigurable electromagnetic interface for different polarizations, frequencies, and bandwidths.

The third area, meanwhile, seeks to demonstrate a scalable infrastructure to combine arrays on physically disconnected platforms into a larger aperture with precise timing and localization data. The idea is to create electromagnetic interface arrays that can be fielded at a rate to match that of commercially developed electronic components.

Today’s RF and microwave systems increasingly use antenna arrays for multiple beam forming and electronic steering, yet these arrays are expensive and time-consuming to develop and upgrade in the field. While the commercial market has set the pace of how electronic systems evolve, military electronics development lags behind, DARPA researchers say.

A fielded military system based on decade-old electronics, for example, has a small fraction of the capabilities of a system based on modern components, and the performance gap is widening between RF components and digital electronics.

As a result, a system with static RF or analog features cannot capitalize on advancements of the underlying digital electronics. It is imperative, therefore, to define a path toward shorter design cycles and infield updates, DARPA researchers say.

Research must push past the traditional barriers that lead to 10-year array development cycles, 20-to-30-year static life cycles, and costly service life extension programs. The DARPA ACT program will respond to these conditions by developing new technology for custom arrays that takes advantage of constantly evolving digital components.

Specifically, the program seeks to develop a separable building block in which as much as 70 80 percent of an array’s development cycle cost is built in to a common module that will encompass functionality common across many applications.

The common module will focus on translating RF or IF inputs to digital beams with sufficient processing to create a manageable data flow among sub-arrays.

ACT building blocks will scale not only to form larger arrays, but also that can scale across platforms to generate coherent, spatially distributed radiation.

DARPA has identified three challenges: the long development times for array systems often with limited design re-use; the fixed design choices that lock-in electromagnetic parameters once the system is fielded; and practical limitations on fielding high-power arrays.

The ACT program will focus on three technical areas: common modules; reconfigurable electromagnetic interfaces; and over-the-air coherent transmitter aggregation.

The common module portion focuses on creating digitally influenced phased array panels with a common module, which will divide a large array into smaller building blocks. Reconfigurable electromagnetic interface focuses on creating a customizable electromagnetic interface to the common module.

Over-the-air coherent transmitter aggregation, meanwhile, focuses on demonstrating the technologies to show that physically separated phased arrays can combine power through precise timing and localization information distributed over a wireless network.

Companies interested should respond no later than 17 June 2013. For questions or concerns email DARPA's William Chappel at DARPA-BAA-13-26@darpa.mil.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-BAA-13-26/listing.html.


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCB ASSY) is as critical a process as circuit board manufacturing.

XPand6020 | Small Form Factor (SFF) System Featuring XPedite5205 Running Cisco IOS® and XPedite7450

The XPand6020 is a Small Form Factor (SFF) system that features an XPedite5205, which runs Cisco ...

General Micro "Horizon" C299

The C299 Horizon is a third generation, 6U cPCI SBC module based on GMS’ upgradable CPU technolog...

RR2P Removable Canister RAID System

Transportable data storage for mobile field use aboard planes, ships and ground transport. 2U, du...

General Micro "Atom" XPC40X Rugged, Ultra-Small, Ultra-Low-Power Intel Atom™ CPU SBC

The XPC40X Atom is a rugged, low cost, ultra-low power, lightweight, Atom™ based computer system....

General Micro's VS295 Eclipse

The VS295 Eclipse is fifth generation, VME SBC module based on GMS, upgradable CPU technology. It...

DSP280 - Rugged Dual Socket 2nd Gen Intel Quad Core i7 Multiprocessor

The DSP280 is a rugged, 6U OpenVPX dual socket Intel 2nd generation Quad Core i7 multiprocessor d...

ADEPT3000 Automatic Video Tracker

GE Intelligent Platforms ADEPT3000 is a cost-effective SWaP optimized automatic video tracking so...

6U OpenVPX HPEC Starter System

GE Intellligent Platforms new HPEC Application Ready Platforms (HARP) products respond to governm...

XCalibur4530 4th generation Intel Core i7 processor-based 6U VME module

The XCalibur4530 is a high-performance 6U VME single board computer that is ideal for ruggedized ...

Related Companies

DiCon Fiberoptics Inc

Offers fiber optic switches, tunable filters, and VOAs. Founded in 1986, the company is a US based, AS9100 certified,...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

Harris Corporation

Harris provides advanced, technology-based solutions that solve government and commercial customers' mission critical...

Innovative Integration

  Since 1988, Innovative Integration has grown to become one of the world's leading suppliers of DSP and data ac...

General Micro Systems Inc

Since 1979, General Micro Systems has been providing the most diverse line of single-board computers in the industry....

Winchester Systems Inc

At its founding in 1981, Winchester Systems introduced its first 5 MB disk system for Intel development system users....

Extreme Engineering Solutions Inc (X-ES)

 Extreme Engineering Solutions, Inc. (X-ES) is a leader in the design, manufacture, and support of standard and ...

LEMO USA Inc

Provides a lightweight, compact aluminum connector. M-series connector is focused on the design that requires a MIL-3...

GE Intelligent Platforms

Provides embedded computing solutions. Products include single-board computers, networking products, avionics interfa...

Omnetics Connector Corp

Omnetics Connector Company is a privately held, world class connector design and manufacturing company with over 25 ...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Model INCX-4001

The INCX-4001 consists of a high quality audio transceiver specifically designed to implement a complete fiber optic intercom.

Model PS-1210

The PS-1210 is a 1A, 12VDC stand-alone or rack mountable non-switcher (no RF noise) power supply.

Model OS-3121

Optical switches are utilized to disconnect, bypass and reroute fiber optic communications. All of these optical switches are purely optical path, there is no optical to e...

Webcasts

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

July 2015
Volume 26, Issue 7
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE