BAE Systems has won three contracts for related high technology defence programs that will be the foundation for the US military’s next-generation digital receivers, transmitters and radio frequency (RF) systems.
BAE Systems Information and Electronic Warfare Systems (IEWS) business, with headquarters at Nashua, New Hampshire, will provide the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with enabling core technologies that span much of the RF and mixed-signal domains under the contracts, which are initially valued at nearly $20 million.
According to BAE Systems, the $6.7 million TEAM (Technology for Efficient, Agile Mixed Signal Microsystems) program will take advantage of the affordability of silicon to develop new device and circuit technologies that enable low-cost systems-on-a-chip (SoC) that integrate RF and digital circuits onto a single semiconductor device.
Until now, RF and digital circuits have been separated, linked by mixed signal components like analogue-digital and digital-analogue converters. This multi-chip approach is said to have limited speed, performance and system flexibility. TEAM will provide an integrated solution that will link the RF and digital processing chain on a low-cost chip.
The $6.85 million IRFFE (Intelligent RF Front Ends) program aims to allow radio receivers and transmitters to adapt to changing environments in real time. IRFFE will produce variable bandwidth amplifiers, variable power/gain amplifiers, and variable bandwidth differential amplifier building blocks to optimise performance over a large portion of the RF spectrum.
The IRFFE technologies could, according to BAE Systems, allow a receiver to sense the signal environment and immediately adapt its performance to provide continued operations even under strong interference or intentional jamming attempts.
The goal of the $6 million TFAST (Technology for Frequency Agile Digitally Synthesized Transmitters) program is to develop indium phosphide (InP) heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) technology to reach levels of micro-circuit performance significantly ahead of anything available today, including a five-fold reduction in power consumption. Higher performance at lower power, in more highly integrated packages, can reportedly benefit any defense communications system with challenging weight or power requirements.
Aaron Penkacik, IEWS’ Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Advanced Systems and Technology, said the three programs will provide ‘extraordinary value to the unit and the nation. These core research and development contracts will ultimately enhance entire IEWS product lines.’