Military Fights For Better Communications Links

5. This is part of the team that developed the Boeing Thin Disk Laser, a directed energy weapon system. (Photo courtesy of Boeing Co.)

According to Michael Rinn, vice president and program director for Boeing Directed Energy Systems, “To be truly viable as a weapons-grade system, a laser must achieve high brightness while remaining efficient at higher power. Our team has shown that we have the power, beam quality and efficiency to deliver such a system to the battlefield. These demonstrations marked the first time the company achieved high beam quality at high power levels simultaneously.

back in space Lockheed Martin, operating with the U.S. Navy’s Aegis combat system, has completed its first live-fire test to demonstrate that the system can defend beyond line of sight by integrating data from remote sensors to intercept a target. It was the first test at sea of ​​the Aegis system’s Naval Integrated Fire Control and Counter-Air (NIFC-CA) capabilities. By using a functionality known as Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) to interpret data from remote sensors, the Aegis system was able to launch a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) missile from USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) to intercept a target.

Jim Sheridan, director of U.S. Navy Aegis programs for Lockheed Martin, noted, “The latest NIFC-CA test demonstrates how the Aegis combat system has taken a significant step forward in increasing interoperability with remote systems to extend the range we can detect, analyze, and intercept targets.” Aegis systems upgrades on cruisers and destroyers are based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components to reduce costs.

Lockheed Martin is also busy improving radar technology, thanks to additional orders worth $206 million from the US Army for the AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) long-range fire control radar system. This radar system is designed to provide enhanced 360-degree. detection and protection from indirect fire. The company has so far delivered 32 systems to the US military, with another 33 systems in production. This latest contract covers an additional 19 Q-53 systems. Mounted on a five-ton truck, the Q-53 can be rapidly deployed, automatically leveled and controlled remotely with a laptop computer or from a fully equipped, climate-controlled command vehicle. The system provides 360-degree. ability to detect, classify and track incoming engines, artillery and missiles at ranges of up to 20 km (up to 60 km when operating in 90 degree search mode), is relatively easy to operate and easy to transport.

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In terms of future communications needs, US military researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are well aware of the rapidly increasing demands to process more data at higher speeds and hope to develop a military wireless data link that can transmit data at speeds over 100 Gb/s per radio channel. The research effort is being conducted under the DARPA 100 Gb/s RF Backbone (100G) program. In support of this work, several contracts have recently been awarded to Silvus Technologies and Trex Enterprises Corp. to work on the program. The contracts were awarded by the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on behalf of DARPA. The two companies are merging Applied Communication Sciencesalready under the 100G program.

The goal of the 100G program is to establish an airborne communication link with the capabilities of the fastest terrestrial optical communication systems, with the ability to operate effectively through clouds, rain and fog. Companies will aim for spectral efficiency of better than 20 b/s/Hz for wireless data rates of 100 Gb/s over ranges of up to 125 miles for air-to-air links and up to 62 miles for air-to-ground links, by suggests that planes at about 60,000 feet altitude.

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