BAE Systems uses Spectrum technology for new signal–acquisition system

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Engineers at BAE Systems Aerospace Electronics Inc. are using software-defined radio technology from Spectrum Signal Processing in Burnaby, British Columbia, for a new wireless intercept platform for signals intelligence applications.

Dec 1st, 2002

By John McHale

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Engineers at BAE Systems Aerospace Electronics Inc. are using software-defined radio technology from Spectrum Signal Processing in Burnaby, British Columbia, for a new wireless intercept platform for signals intelligence applications.

The new signal acquisition system features Spectrum's flexComm High Channel Density Receiver (HCDR) PowerPC subsystem and BAE Systems Wide Band SI-9136A Dual Channel VME-based RF tuner.

"BAE Systems looks to Spectrum as one of our partners for new subsystem developments," says Jill Kale, vice president and general manager of the BAE Systems Gaithersburg operation. "Spectrum's products and key technologies allow us to provide our customers with systems that are less prone to obsolescence, a demand of our customer base."

"This project represents the second time we have secured a design win under our strategic relationship with BAE Systems announced in December 2000," says Sean Howe, vice president of marketing and general manager of Spectrum's Wireless Systems Group. "We expect that the powerful combination of BAE Systems's front end tuner with Spectrum's signal processing subsystems will generate additional design wins in the future."

Spectrum's signal processing subsystem, integrated with BAE Systems' wideband RF tuner products, enables uninterrupted distribution of wide band digital Intermediate Frequency (IF) data to multiple digital down-converters for simultaneous processing and analysis, Spectrum officials say. The system is physically less complex, more flexible and scalable and provides a more robust system from a signal integrity standpoint, company officials claim.

The joint effort results in a channel receiver for signals intelligence that has 128 narrowband channels that can be doubled to 256, says Manuel Uhm, senior manager of strategic marketing and communications. This is due to the capabilities of the BAE Systems tuner and Spectrum's signal processing technology, Uhm says. "The BAE Systems device also uses Spectrum's low-voltage differential signaling interface (LVDS), which enables the two devices to integrate seamlessly," Uhm says

"The technology enables us to use any down converter we want," Uhm says. Normally other software-defined radio applications are limited to 32 channels and one down converter for a specific set of channels, Uhm explains. "We are able to are able to use any combination of the 128 channels with any down converter," he claims.

The BAE Systems/Spectrum base wireless intercept platform processes as many as 128 narrowband channels in 200 MHz of RF bandwidth tunable to bandwidths as wide as 2 MHz to 3 GHz, Spectrum officials say. The system can scale in channel density or RF frequency coverage by adding or removing RF components or processing elements, company officials say.

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