Ultra Electronics to develop software-defined radar for navigation aboard Navy surface warships

PORT HUENEME, Calif. – U.S. Navy Surface warship radar experts needed requirements for a new software-defined surface-search radar system to replace existing radars that suffer from obsolescent technologies or an inability to meet current threats. They found their solution from the Ultra Electronics Ocean Systems segment in Braintree, Mass.

Mar 18th, 2019
Ultra Electronics to develop software-defined radar for navigation aboard Navy surface warships
Ultra Electronics to develop software-defined radar for navigation aboard Navy surface warships
PORT HUENEME, Calif. – U.S. Navy Surface warship radar experts needed requirements for a new software-defined surface-search radar system to replace existing radars that suffer from obsolescent technologies or an inability to meet current threats. They found their solution from the Ultra Electronics Ocean Systems segment in Braintree, Mass.

Officials of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division at Port Hueneme, Calif., announced a $28 million contract to Ultra Electronic Ocean Systems on Friday to develop Next Generation Surface Search Radar (NGSSR) qualification systems.

Navigation and situational awareness are basic functions of all surface warships and these seemingly routine tasks have become more difficult as the ocean becomes increasingly complex with the proliferation of inexpensive solid-state radar, Navy officials say.

Major shipping channels are jammed with ship and radio traffic as well as debris like floating transport containers. Even small fishing boat and pleasure craft operators today can afford navigation radar systems. Air traffic and land-based radar further crowd and confuse the radio spectrum.

Related: Navy asks Raytheon to build three advanced prototype AMDR radar systems for Burke-class surface warship

To make matters worse, enemy ships, aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can exploit this complex sensor picture to conduct surveillance or other operations undetected. The answer, experts say, will be the NGSSR.

This new radar will use of the latest digital technology and incorporate a software-based architecture at its core. NGSSR will have a suite of algorithms that extend, enhance, and optimize NGSSR's performance by exploiting the system's software-defined architecture.

The NGSSR's receiver and exciter will be implemented in software to the maximum extent possible, Navy officials say. The bulk of the non-processor hardware will be for A/D and D/A conversion, except for ancillary equipment like power supplies. Its software-defined capabilities are expected to enhance maintainability by reducing radar-specific hardware.

Its software-defined architecture also could implement functionality never before considered for such relatively simple rotating radar, such as extending the radar’s range and navigation functions in bad weather; resisting enemy electronic warfare attempts to jam it; detecting UAVs, periscopes, floating debris, and floating mines; and improving collision avoidance in crowded waterways.

Related: Navy bulks-up anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability for destroyer and cruiser surface warships

The new NGSSR software-defined radar ultimately will replace all variants of the Navy's current AN/SPS-67, AN/SPS-73, BridgeMaster E series, and commercial-of-the-shelf radar systems.

Ultra Electronics will help find a replacement for legacy systems due to current military threats and obsolescence issues. The contract aims to outline the requirements and approach for NGSSR development, testing, and manufacturing. This contract to Ultra Electronics has options that could increase its value to $34.6 million.

The AN/SPS-67 is a short-range, two-dimensional, surface-search and navigation radar system that provides surface and limited low-flyer detection and tracking. the AN/SPS-73(V)12 radar, likewise, is a short-range, two-dimensional, surface search and navigation radar system that provides contact range and bearing information, and helps determine own-ship position relative to nearby vessels and navigational hazards. The BridgeMaster E surface- search radar, meanwhile, provides navigation to commercial and military high speed crafts and vessels.

Related: Navy researchers seek to tame the electromagnetic interference beast plaguing shipboard electronics

The AN/SPS-73(V)12 is installed on about 100 Navy ships like aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, amphibious assault ships, and support ships. It was placed into caretaker Status in 2017 in preparation for its replacement by the NGSSR. Thousands of BridgeMaster E marine radars, meanwhile, have been sold to more than 50 navies and coast guards worldwide as well as civilian customers. It replaced the Navy SPS-64 surface-search radar on Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in 2001.

On this contract Ultra Electronics Ocean Systems will do the work in Chantilly, Va.; Wake Forest, N.C.; and Braintree, Mass., and should be finished by July 2021.

For more information contact Ultra Electronic Ocean Systems online at www.ultra-os.com, or the Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division at www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NSWC-Port-Hueneme.

Ready to make a purchase? Search the Military & Aerospace Electronics Buyer's Guide for companies, new products, press releases, and videos

More in Computers