Cubic wins two Joint STARS contracts

SAN DIEGO - Engineers at Cubic Defense Systems Inc., a subsidiary of San Diego-based Cubic Corp., are providing additional data links for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) aircraft, and are demonstrating the High Capacity Data Link (HCDL).

Aug 1st, 2000
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By John McHale

SAN DIEGO - Engineers at Cubic Defense Systems Inc., a subsidiary of San Diego-based Cubic Corp., are providing additional data links for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) aircraft, and are demonstrating the High Capacity Data Link (HCDL).

Cubic officials are working on the projects under terms of two U.S. Army contracts.

"Joint STARS received widespread acclaim for its performance during Operations Desert Storm and Joint Endeavor," says David S. Miller, Joint STARS program manager at Cubic Defense Systems.


Designers at Cubic Defense Systems are switching to field-programmable gate arrays from old transistor-transistor logic in newly configured ground terminals, which are part of the U.S. Joint surveillance Target Attack Radar system - otherwise known as Joint STARS.
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"The new configuration of the ground terminals, along with the new terminal test sets, will increase reliability 45 percent and greatly enhance training and troubleshooting in the field," Miller says. "A change to the stowage case is also under evaluation, which will reduce the weight of the fielded system."

Cubic is going away from transistor-transistor logic (TTL) technology on Joint STARS and toward field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), Miller says. Cubic engineers are using FPGAs from Xilinx Inc. of San Jose, Calif. Xilinx FPGAs enable Cubic designers to condense components to create more room in the system, he explains. FPGAs also do not have the obsolescence problems associated with traditional integrated circuits, Miller adds.

The contracts, from the U.S. Army Communication-Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J., bring the total amount awarded to Cubic since 1993 for Joint STARS work to $181 million. They include newly configured ground data terminals and Cubic's first production of ground data terminal test sets that simulate the US Air Force E-8C aircraft's airborne data terminal.

The terminal test sets perform as an airborne link when an aircraft is not available, Miller says. Army leaders must train their operators on the ground stations, and the test sets can help save on the high costs of training during actual aircraft operations.

Cubic's data link is a jam-resistant radio communication system that broadcasts radar images and moving target indications from aircraft to several different ground stations. This ability helps operators from several different ground-support units to communicate simultaneously. The airborne platform enables the military to look behind enemy lines and to obtain intelligence and targeting data.

Under terms of the $13.8 million contract, Cubic engineers will produce nine ground data terminals, four ground data terminal test sets, and two lots of spares.

The HCDL demonstration contract has been awarded to Cubic to reduce the technical risk of an impending data link upgrade. The upgrade is a result of the Air Force's Radar Technology Improvement Program (RTIP), planned to increase the radar sensitivity on the Joint STARS E-8C aircraft.

The HCDL will have a much improved data rate and reduce rack space by 30 to 50 percent due to the use of FPGAs and less hardware, Miller notes.

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