Nov. 1, 2004

BAE Systems rad-hard ­processors travel aboard MESSENGER to Mercury

Radiation-hardened RAD6000 computers and solid-state recorder assemblies from BAE Systems Information & Electronic Warfare Systems in Manassas, Va., headed for the planet Mercury this summer. The successful Delta II rocket launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., marked the ­beginning of a 4.9-billion-mile, 6.5-year journey to Mercury. The spacecraft MESSENGER will study the planet’s ­geologic history and overall structure. “NASA and Johns Hopkins University scientists are trying to ­understand the formation of Earth and other planets. Our RAD6000s and solid-state recorders will support that mission,” says Laura Burcin, BAE Systems ­MESSENGER program manager. The RAD6000 is a high-performance 32-bit Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) that operates in the heavily radiated space environment. The RAD6000 is based on the IBM RISC Single Chip (RSC) architecture. BAE Systems computers and recorders provide on-board computing and data storage for the instruments and spacecraft control functions aboard MESSENGER, which is set to become the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. Following a route that includes two fly-bys of Venus, MESSENGER should reach Mercury by March 2011. During its year-long orbit, MESSENGER will provide the first images of the entire planet and collect detailed information on the composition and structure of Mercury’s crust, its geologic history, the nature of its thin atmosphere, ­active Earth-like magnetosphere, and the makeup of its core and polar ­materials.

Raytheon�s ATFLIR supports combat operations from the USS John F. Kennedy

The ASQ-228 ATFLIR targeting pod, designed by engineers at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in El ­Segundo, Calif., is deployed with two F/A-18C Hornet fighter-bomber squadrons onboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 67). Delivered to the Navy just weeks before ­deployment, these ­ATFLIR pods completed missions in July without missing a sortie, Raytheon officials claim. Combat-proven in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, U.S. combatant commanders ask for ­ATFLIR for air-to-ground and air-to-air operations. ATFLIR supports precision-strike missions employing laser-guided bombs and GPS-guided munitions during strike and reconnaissance ­missions involving close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, and real-time battle damage assessment. The service plans to purchase as many as 574 pods for deployment on every F/A-18 configuration in the fleet. ATFLIR is approved for international sales. ATFLIR gives naval aviators a three- to five-fold increase in target-recognition range. Its infrared and ­electro-optical (television format) ­sensors can detect tactical threats at long ranges, delivering images with more clarity than those of any other targeting pod in production, Raytheon officials claim. Its diode-pumped laser has been demonstrated at altitudes above 50,000 feet.

Air Force looks to Honeywell for computer security

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate in Rome, N.Y., awarded a contract to Honeywell Inc. in Minneapolis for research to enhance computer security. The 18-month agreement, “Self-­Regenerative Systems (SRS) - CORTEX: Mission Aware Cognitive Self-­Regenerative Technology,” ­receives funding from the Defense ­Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of Arlington, Va., in support of the Self-Regenerative Systems (SRS) program of its Information Processing Technology Office. “The focus of Honeywell’s ­research is to combine and extend existing software tools to form a combination of cognitively inspired sensing, planning and learning algorithms that will support a self-aware, self-adaptive, and self-regenerative computer environment,” says John Maxey, program engineer in the directorate’s Defensive Information Warfare Branch. “The ­envisioned software will link network sensors to automatically recognize and react to attacks or unintentional errors. There will also be efforts to have the software continue a learning process in real time so that the system will work even better detecting the next event.” The mission of DARPA’s SRS program is to develop technology for building military computing systems that provide critical functionality at all times, in spite of damage caused by unintentional errors or attacks.

Army buys SAIC Mobile VACIS cargo, vehicle, and contraband inspection units

Science Applications International Corporation’s (SAIC) Security and Transportation Technology business unit in San Diego today will provide Mobile VACIS cargo, vehicle, and contraband inspection units to the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Acquisition Center - Washington (CAC-W) to support priority Army requirements. CAC-W awarded SAIC contract orders to purchase a total of eight Mobile VACIS inspection units. SAIC’s VACIS inspection systems are gamma ray-based systems designed to nonintrusively inspect the contents of trucks, containers, and cargo for purposes of manifest verification, contraband interception, and explosives, weapons or threat identification. The Mobile VACIS unit is one of five available configurations and is truck-mounted for rapid inspection of stationary and moving vehicles and containers. SAIC’s Security and Transportation Technology Business Unit will provide installation, testing, complete training, and maintenance.

ESC contract award will improve deployed communication

Officials at the Electronic Systems Center (ESC) at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., aimed to improve communication in a deployed environment with a contract for a program called Theatre Deployable Communications. The contract names Dell Marketing in Round Rock, Texas; Northrop Grumman ­Defense Mission Systems in Reston, Va.; General Dynamics Decision Systems in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Northrop Grumman Electronics Systems in Gaithersburg, Md.; and Redcom Laboratories in Victor, N.Y., as the prime contractors. The program provides deployable portable modules designed to improve interoperability, communication capacity, and user connections. “The system provides telephone lines, internet connections and all the other communication infrastructure that typically is behind your cube wall in an office environment,” says Joan Wandrei, system program manager. “We provide all this capability in a portable form, which is ideal for the functionality and flexibility required for the deployed ­environment.” Major module configurations include voice, data, multiplexing, on-base transmission, and network control modules. Each module can also be configured specifically to meet the requirements of the user with electronic units that are easily interchanged from one module to another.

Radstone Technology acquires Octec Ltd.

Radstone Technology, a supplier of rugged, embedded computer products for defense and aerospace applications, in Towcester, England, acquired Octec Limited, a privately held company in Bracknell, England, that provides rugged, real-time, image-processing, and video-tracking equipment to defense and aerospace customers. Octec’s image processors and video trackers are part of military and aerospace optoelectronic systems such as air-to-ground, ground-to-ground, and naval applications. The acquisition will enable Radstone to broaden its system solutions offerings, including application software, software operating systems, and hardware, without competing with the full system offering of its customers, Radstone officials say. For more information go online at

VMETRO enters agreement to acquire Transtech DSP

Officials at VMETRO in Houston and Transtech DSP in Ithaca, N.Y., agreed that VMETRO will buy 100 percent of shares of the digital signal processing (DSP) solutions provider. VMETRO officials say Transtech’s DSP technology complements their line of data recorder and I/O solutions, enabling the combined entity to provide solutions for radar and sonar processing, digital software radio, spectrum analysis, telecommunications, medical imaging, as well as other advanced tests and measurements, VMETRO officials say. The transaction will considerably strengthen VMETRO’s position in the United Kingdom market - Transtech is based there. Transtech DSP’s product line includes signal and data processing boards that pair field-programmable gate-array processing engines with DSP or PowerPC processors. In addition, the company offers analog I/O boards, ­software tools, libraries, drivers, and ­enclosures. For more information go online at or

AFRL-Rome awards $3.7 M contract to Virginia firm

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate in Rome, N.Y., awarded a contract to SI International Inc. of Reston, Va., for complex adaptive signals and systems (CASS). The company will provide scientific, engineering and administrative services to the directorate’s Multi-Sensor Exploitation Branch, which conducts research in collecting, processing, and disseminating information intelligence. “SI International researchers will conduct analysis using complex algorithms in the development of technology to enhance the capabilities of the intelligence community,” says ­Andrew R. Williams, program manager in the directorate’s Information and Intelligence Exploitation Division. “The ­increasing complexity of computer network and electronic signals requires novel approaches to support the collection and processing of intelligence information.” Research Associates of Syracuse Inc., in East Syracuse, N.Y., will provide expertise in detection of electronic intelligence signals as a subcontractor on the program.

U.S. military creating a multibillion dollar software- defined radio industry

Experts at Venture Development Corp. (VDC) in Natick, Mass., say the U.S. military almost all by itself is creating a market for Software Defined Radio (SDR). The U.S. military, VDC points out, is the largest proponent and purchaser of SDR technology. In fact, shipments of SDR equipment to the United States military are forecast to reach more than $1.7 billion by 2007. This represents a compound annual growth rate of 48.4 percent between 2003 and 2007, VDC researchers say. Most U.S. SDR procurement takes place through the Department of Defense’s Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program. JTRS was started seven years ago in an effort to coordinate the replacement of approximately 750,000 U.S. military radios with 250,000 to 320,000 software-defined radios. Unlike previous radio systems, these new SDR radios can interoperate with each other and be upgraded via software to incorporate the latest communications technologies. Since its conception the program has been expanded to enable interoperability with the British military, NATO, and other Allied Forces. For more information go online to

BittWare adds libraries with EZ-DSP acquisition

BittWare Inc. in Concord, N.H., acquired EZ-DSP Ltd., of Belfast, Northern Ireland, a software developer for Analog Devices’ TigerSHARC digital signal processors (DSPs). EZ-DSP offers custom software system development as well as development tools and training. “DSP development tools are vital to solving the time-to-market issues of today’s design solutions,” says Gerald McGuire, general manager, Media Platforms and Services Group, Analog Devices. “Adding EZ-DSP’s TS-Lib optimized ­libraries for the ADSP-TS201 to BittWare’s hardware offerings for the TigerSHARC strengthens BittWare’s partnership to Analog Devices.” For more information go online at

VITA brings together industry experts to further VXS and PMC conduction-cooled standards

Members of VITA, the VMEbus International Trade Association, in Scottsdale, Ariz., voted in September to move two working-group draft standards into the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) process. The first draft standard, VITA 41.0, VXS, is the base-level draft standard for the latest enhancement to the VMEbus. VXS specifies a high-performance, differential P0 connector that enables helps designers combine high-speed serial fabrics with the real-time/hard-deadline performance of the VMEbus. This creates a standardized methodology of integrating high-speed serial data pipes to high-performance VMEbus-based systems. The second draft to be forwarded to ANSI is a revision to an existing standard, ANSI/VITA 20, Conduction Cooling for PMC. Ivan Straznicky of Curtiss Wright Controls Embedded Computing, and chair of the working group, started the effort to provide a method for dealing with possible connector fretting. For more information go online at

U.S. Navy chooses Lockheed Martin team to build mobile user objective system

U.S. Navy officials selected a Lockheed Martin-led team to build the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system that will provide improved and assured communications for the mobile warfighter. This win enables the team of Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, Calif.; General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Boeing Satellite Systems (BSS) in El Segundo, Calif.; to produce the first two satellites and associated ground control elements. This project is part of the $2.1 billion contract awarded by the U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), on behalf of the Program Executive Office-Space Systems in San Diego, Calif. The contract also provides for options on three additional spacecraft. MUOS will replace the current narrowband tactical satellite communications system known as the Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UFO) system. MUOS satellites will be compatible with the existing UFO system and associated legacy terminals while increasing military communications availability and providing simultaneous voice, data, and video in real time to mobile warfighters around the globe. MUOS will also make the most of the future Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) terminals. Anticipated launch date for the first MUOS satellite is planned for 2010.

ITT Industries to develop digital receiver technology for Army

Officials at the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Command in Huntsville, Ala., ­selected ITT Industries to finish building the digital receiver-based Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and associated integration with the AVR-2 Laser Warning ­Receiver (LWR). This effort will complete work associated with the advanced Radar Warning Receiver. This will result in a lightweight, state-of-the-art digital RWR for the Army, which embodies growth provisions for RF capability. ITT’s Avionics Division, based in Clifton, N.J., will performed the work. A laboratory demonstration in one-on-one and multiple-threat scenarios is in December. The modularity and scalability of this RWR complements and supports ITT’s existing ALQ-211 family of countermeasure systems solutions that are under contract on numerous aircraft. Immediate future applications include U.S. Army and ­international platforms. For more information go online at

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