Optoelectronics briefs

May 1, 2006

TSAT laser communications development passes crucial milestone

Laser communications experts from two U.S. defense contractors have taken the next step in their development of the future space-based military Internet called the Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT). The contractor team of Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., and the Northrop Grumman Space Technology sector in Redondo Beach, Calif., demonstrated the interoperability of a new fast data communications protected waveform in the initial test of the Next Generation Processor/Router (NGPR)-the brain of future Internet protocol-based military satellite communications TSAT. The test of the Northrop Grumman NGPR was done against the TSAT RF Universal System Test Terminal at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2. This initial compatibility test, NGPR-1, verified compliance with key aspects of the U.S. government’s compatibility standards for the XDR+ waveform, a secure, protected, anti-jamming waveform for TSAT ground-to-satellite uplinks and downlinks. The tests measured the compatibility of XDR+ as well as increased bandwidth efficiency to transfer more information in the same transmitted signal bandwidth. Northrop Grumman’s NGPR operated at full-flight data rates established for TSAT. XDR+ waveforms represent an advancement of the XDR waveform used on the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) satellite system. It meets the high-throughput requirements of TSAT, which uses radio frequency and laser communications to provide secure, efficient, global communications for warfighters. The NGPR takes the information transmitted through military user terminals, determines where the information needs to go, and selects the most efficient route based on standard commercial network design principles.

QuickSwitch MEMS-based fiber-optic mirror switch provides gigabyte network switching

The QuickSwitch Model 6290 single-mode SC duplex interface A/B switch with secure remote access from Electro Standards Laboratories in Cranston, R.I., provides gigabyte network switching, company officials say. QuickSwitch M6290 accesses two separate fiber optic networks or devices, ports A and B, via connection through a network device connected to the Common port. This switch employs microelectromechanical system (MEMS)-based single-mode switches to keep insertion losses at less than one decibel. Additional features include optical scalability, bit-rate transparent, and service/protocol transparency. Controlling the QuickSwitch is a front-panel pushbutton, or remote control comes from an RS232 serial port (DB9) located on the rear panel. If power is lost, the switch maintains its position and continues to pass data. Tri-state LEDs display switch position and indicate power presence. The A, B, and Common ports of the M6290 are Fiber Optic Single Mode SC Duplex ports that accept standard Fiber Optic SC duplex connectors. For more information contact Electro Standards Laboratories online at www.ElectroStandards.com.

L-3 Communications to acquire SSG Precision Optronics

L-3 Communications in New York is set to acquire SSG Precision Optronics Inc. (SSG), which specializes in optics, telescopes, and precision optical subsystems for government, military, and commercial applications. SSG, which has facilities in Wilmington, Mass., and Richmond, Calif., designs and manufactures optical components, sensors, and subsystems for the space and tactical military markets. SSG’s customer base includes U.S. Department of Defense prime contractors, in addition to government agencies and laboratories. SSG provides optical systems and telescopes for space, missile, and airborne applications. The company’s products include airborne pointing and scanning stabilized mirrors, stabilized gimbals, and stabilized lightweight multi-spectral telescopes. SSG currently provides telescope equipment to the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS)-High initiative, mirror assemblies for the laser protection system for the Joint Strike Fighter, and optical products to the James Webb Space Telescope and the National Ignition Facility, as well as to several classified space-based imaging initiatives. Financial terms have not been disclosed. The business is expected to have annual sales of approximately $60 million, and will be included in L-3’s Sensors and Simulation Group, which is reported in L-3’s Specialized Products reportable segment.

DRS gets $15 million Marine Corps orders for thermal imaging systems

The DRS Technologies Inc. Optronics unit in Palm Bay, Fla., is building thermal imaging systems for the U.S. Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams main battle tank Firepower Enhancement Program (FEP). The FEP will increase the Marine Corps day and night war-fighting capability by providing rapid target engagement, extending engagement ranges, and increasing lethality. DRS will build and install the FEP variant of Second Generation Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) Thermal Imaging Systems currently used in various U.S. Army ground-based weapon systems. DRS engineers are doing the work under terms of $15 million in new orders from the Raytheon Co. Network Centric Systems in McKinney, Texas. Deliveries will start in September and finished in August 2007. The FEP Second Generation FLIR thermal imaging systems provide high-resolution imagery to detect threats at significantly greater distances under a full range of harsh battlefield conditions, DRS officials say. They provide increased threat overmatch, while performing far-target location. The FEP systems will include a new Far Target Location sensor that further extends the sighting systems’ range and greatly improves situational awareness. For more information contact DRS online at www.drs.com.

Northrop Grumman to provide advanced targeting pods for tactical aircraft

U.S. Air Force officials are looking to the Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Rolling Meadows, Ill., to provide the AN/AAQ-28 Litening advanced airborne targeting and navigation pod. The Litening pod combines infrared sensor, visible-light camera, laser designator, and strapdown navigation system to enable combat aircraft pilots to drop bombs accurately during the day, at night, or in bad weather. Northrop Grumman is building the Litening pods, as well as providing upgrades and training, under terms of a $275 million contract awarded March 20 from the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The pods are for the F-16 and F-15 jet fighters, the A-10 close-air-support aircraft, and the B-52 bomber. In addition to the Air Force, the U.S. Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, and Marine Corps are using Litening. Northrop Grumman partners with RAFAEL of Israel to produce these systems, which combine forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, charge-coupled device (CCD) camera, laser designator and rangefinder, laser spot designator, and strap-down navigation system. The system enables aircraft pilots to detect and laser-designate surface targets, drop laser-guided bombs accurately, fly at night at low altitudes, detect laser spots, and identify aerial targets. For more information contact Northrop Grumman online at www.northropgrumman.com.

Experior Photonics receives DSCC approval for fiber optic connector testing

Experior Photonics Inc. in Newbury Park, Calif., has received approval from the U.S. Defense Supply Center Columbus (DSCC) in Columbus, Ohio, to provide Qualified Parts List (QPL) testing of fiber-optic termini to the MIL-PRF-29504 product specification. Experior Photonics becomes the first test lab in the U.S. that is fully approved by DSCC for QPL testing of a fiber optic connector/termini specification, company officials say. The approval covers specific requirements for slash-sheets 4 and 5 of the 29504 specification. This approval includes a certification to MIL-STD-790 covering general quality guidelines for testing of components. For more information contact Experior Photonics online at www.experiorphotonics.com.

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