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By Adam Baddeley, Deputy Editor, BATTLESPACE

Hypres is creating the opportunity to revolutionise multi-channel RF communications, including some configurations of the Joint Tactical Radio System programme, using Rapid Single Flux Quantum (RSFQ) Digital RF technology running on supercooled, programmable, digital superconducting MCMs to directly convert RF energy to digital signals at over-the-air RF frequencies without the traditional analogue pre-processing, offering true all digital RF distribution.

Having developed the basic capability through a succession of Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) projects over several years, the first big contract for Hypres was via the DoD Defense Challenge technology insertion programme that was initiated in 2002. That contract, worth $8 million, was to develop the first ever All Digital Receiver (ADR); the $8M figure represented roughly two thirds of the 2002 overall budget for the Defense Challenge programme.

Work began in June 2003 and passed the important milestone of government acceptance verification testing of this proof-of-concept, first ever ADR receiver system in early April of this year. Work is now close to completion for final delivery to SPAWAR’s PMW180 where more extensive evaluation will occur. During the verification process the HF/VHF prototype demonstrated the ability to receive SINCGARS voice and data transmissions from actual Army radios brought to the testing by CECOM.

The ADR contract was managed through the Office of Naval Research (ONR) as part of an agreement between OSD and ONR. Its not just a Navy project however, as the land forces (primarily the US Army) have also expressed interest in the work and the underlying technologies according to Richard Hitt, VP/GM for government programs at HYPRES.”The CERDEC R&D group at Ft. Monmouth has expressed a lot of interest for its use with JTRS, SATCOM and other related applications in the EW and SIGINT mission areas. CERDEC has taken a leadership position in developing the technology in conjunction with the Navy and Air Force. Hypres has consequently received a series of adjunct projects, tied to a master All Digital Transceiver (ADT) technology development plan, to develop both the transmit and receive circuitry as well as the cryogenic packaging and support systems.”

A critical factor in taking the ADR from the research world to actual deployment is A $1.5million project to develop a Tactical Compact Cryocooler. To do this the company ran a competition for the design among some of the largest companies in the defence and aerospace world. From an initial six, Hypres down-selected to Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Sun Power. The process, however, is still not complete explained Hitt. “With the concurrence of our Government Advisory Panel we have chosen Lockheed Martin Space Technologies to be our contractor for the compact cryo-cooler. We ended up with a very innovative design that comes to us as the result of significant NASA investment for spaceflight cryocoolers estimated at nearly $50 million. The version we need for tactical radios systems needs to be relatively inexpensive, requiring re-engineering for high volume manufacturing of a very capable and reliable design . We determined that the design Lockheed Martin originally developed for NASA was about an 80% solution for what we needed. Of the designs considered, the Lockheed Martin design was inherently the most rugged, reliable and cheapest to manufacture once re-engineered as a tactical version. The LM effort will produce a working prototype on an 18 month contract, which is scheduled for completion about 14 months from now.”

With the combination of the new Lockheed Martin cryo-cooler and Hypres’ cryo-package and electronics to go with it, the aim is to have the entire multi-channel solution packaged in a modest form factor. Hitt explained, “The first ADR prototype is supported by a commercial cryocooler

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