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BAE WINS DARPA RF CONTRACTS

1 Nov 02. BAE SYSTEMS has won three contracts for related high technology defense programs that will be the building blocks for the U.S. 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 $20m.

The 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 analog-digital and digital-analog converters.

This multi-chip approach has limited speed, performance and system flexibility. TEAM will provide a highly integrated solution that will link the RF and digital processing chain on a low-cost chip.

“In addition to reducing the overall size of the package, the SoC approach reduces power requirements, and eliminates performance degradation associated with inter-chip wiring,” said Frank Stroili, BAE SYSTEMS TEAM Program Manager. “Furthermore, the single fabrication process provides a substantially lower overall cost.”

The initial TEAM contract value is $6.7m.
The IRFFE (Intelligent RF Front Ends) program will 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 optimize performance over a large portion of the RF spectrum. The promising IRFFE technologies could, for example, 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.

“Further enhancing its combat usefulness, the system will be able to reconfigure within the band of interest, automatically adjust RF frequency and bandwidth, search out and obtain information about the residual signals and other signals of military interest,” said John Windyka, BAE SYSTEMS IRFFE Program Director. The contract is valued at $6.85m.

The goal of the TFAST (Technology ffor Frequency Agile DigitallySynthesized 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 benefit any defense communications system with challenging weight or power requirements. BAE SYSTEMS officials believe that TFAST technology may also push the state of the art for commercial communications systems as well.

“This is the device building block program for future RF systems,” said Tony Immorlica, BAE SYSTEMS Business Development Manager. “The TFAST technology will have a direct, high impact on current and future DoD programs. Electronic warfare (EW) systems are particularly suitable for TFAST,” he added, because “its digital generation and direct sampling of RF signals would greatly enhance future EW capabilities.” The contract is valued at $6m.

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,” he said, including communications devices,, expendable coun

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