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The 7 Key Technology Areas
of Defense Electronics
JACK BROWNE, Contributing Editor

Sponsored by

Copyright 2017 by Penton Media,Inc.

All rights reserved.


Defense electronics is a broad theme, one for

which an e-book such as this can only scratch the
surface. For many, defense electronics is about the
sophisticated surveillance and radar systems that
are used to keep track of an enemys position, or the
advanced electronic-warfare (EW) systems that can
use electronic signal detection and generation to
keep an adversary off-balance and prevent casualties.
Technical Contributor
But defense electronics includes many different
electronic technologies, from audio through light
waves, and each of these different technologies
contributes to ultimate battlefield success. This
e-book attempts to provide a basic understanding of
seven key technology areas, describing how each fits
within modern defense electronics systems.

CHAPTER 1: ELECTRONIC WARFARE..............................2

CHAPTER 2: RADAR.................................................... 5
CHAPTER 3: GNSS, GPS, AND NAVIGATION.................8

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Recruiting EM Energy for Battle:

EW Provides Offense and Defense
Electronic warfare covers a large part of military electronics, including defense strategies such as
jamming and sending false radar returns, to offensive actions, such as the use of directed-energy

efense electronics technologies
perform many functions for the
modern military, with electronic
warfare (EW) providing means
of attack as well as protection. EW is a
somewhat broad term referring to the use
of electromagnetic (EM) energy for war-
farespecifically, it involves the control
of the EM spectrum. Offensive actions
include radiating high-power EM energy
in the form of directed-energy weapons 1. The AN/ALR-56 is the radar warning system used on board the Super Hercules
while defensive actions include jamming aircraft and many U.S. Air Force aircraft, with the AN/ALR-56C on board the F-15
an adversarys communications or radar fighter and the AN/ALR-56M used on the F-16 fighter. (Courtesy of BAE Systems.)
systems to prevent their use of the EM
spectrum. Development of effective EM systems (and signals and signal a warning or trigger
EW systems can operate from land, responses to an adversarys EW systems) a response to the intercepted threat
sea, air, or even from space, and may requires measurement tools capable of signals, such as transmission of jamming
be manned or unmanned, such as in comprehensive spectrum monitoring and signals. An RWR must be designed with
remotely controlled unmanned aerial signal identification in a congested and a broadband receiver capable of covering
vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground complex global EME. A subset of EW is many different standard radar frequency
vehicles (UGVs). EW systems are not signals intelligence (SIGINT), which has bands and modulation formats and many
limited to the any particular frequencies to do with measuring and identifying different pulsed-signal characteristics.
but may be deployed in any portion signals of interest as part of a process of Modern RWR systems such as the AN/
of the EM spectrum, including the identify friend or foe (IFF) to determine ALR-56M system supplied by BAE
visible spectrum IR frequencies, and if intercepted signals refer to possible Systems (www.baesystems.com) to the U.S.
UV radiation. The operating realm of threats, such as an enemy radar, or are Air Force provides frequency coverage
EW systems is often referred to as the signals from coalition troops. from C through J bands but features
electromagnetic environment (EME), a modular architecture that allows for
with systems enabling EM compatibility Sending a Warning extension to other frequencies, even
and deception and performing such For defense, one of the most critical though millimeter-wave frequencies. It can
functions as communications and EW systems is the radar warning receiver be adapted to many different aircraft and
radar jamming, reconnaissance and (RWR), a system designed to provide avionics systems.
intelligence, and electronic security. reliable detection of an adversarys radar As with many avionic RWR systems,

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the AN/ALR-56M (Fig. 1) operates identifying all modern search, acquisition, ship geolocation direction-finding
with forward and aft antennas as and tracking radars that are part of (DF) capabilities, without any hardware
well as numerous low-band antennas ground-based and aircraft-based weapons modifications, during testing earlier in
mounted on the underside of the aircraft systems. the year. Such capabilities enable signal-
fuselage. Input signals from the multiple Another advanced RWR system, the ship geolocation of intercepted signals
antennas are fed to a frequency-agile, ALR-69A(V) developed by Raytheon for precise information on ground-based
superheterodyne receiver under RISC Co. (www.raytheon.com), achieves threat locations and accurate DF data on
computer control and with adaptive enhanced performance through a highly airborne sources of threat signals.
digital-signal-processing (DSP) digital architecture. It is designed for As a defensive EW counterpart to an
technology. The highly programmable high-sensitivity radar signal detection RWR system, a fiber-optic towed decoy
RWR system automatically adapts in dense signal environments (Fig. 2). It (FOTD) such as the AN/ALE-55 from
selectivity and sensitivity to a particular is compatible with almost all airborne BAE Systems is deployed behind an
EME, detecting all signals within range avionics systems and is currently installed aircraft to serve as a secondary source of
and quickly analyzing, identifying, and on U.S. Air Force C-130H, KC-46A, and radar signals to an enemy tracker (Fig. 3).
separating friendly signals from threat ALR-69A aircraft and being tested on F-16 Using a fiber-optic electrical connection
signals. Through the use of digital fighter jets. to the main avionics system, a towed
preprocessing, nonthreat signals can The ALR-69A(V) RWR system is the decoy transmits jamming signals or false
quickly and accurately be eliminated. result of extensive reliance on commercial radar returns to an enemy tracking radar
In addition, the RWR features adaptive off-the-shelf (COTS) components and to disrupt their effectiveness. If an enemy
real-time filtering for protection against digital circuitry for high functionality at missile is launched, the towed decoy
jammers based on continuous-wave (CW) reduced costs. It employs a 16-channel can provide transmissions that cause
and high-pulse-rate emitters. receiver configuration with a flexible mistracking of the missiles guidance
The AN/ALR-56M advanced modular architecture that allows system or, failing that, it will send
RWR system is designed with high- performance upgrades by replacing digital transmissions that make the enemy missile
performance components to achieve circuit cards. The modular format also track the decoy as the actual target. In
long mean-time to failure (MTTF). It simplifies interfaces and integration contrast to disposable towed decoys, this
consists of a well-constructed modular with an aircrafts radar and electronic- unit features a reel-out/reel-in feature that
architecture with multiple receiver countermeasure (ECM) systems to enable permits reuse after a mission.
blocks, a superheterodyne receiver high-speed responses to detected threats. A digital RF memory (DRFM) plays
controller, and an analysis processor A total of four wideband channelized an essential role in sending false radar
with real-time preprocessor, avionics receivers, each covering on quadrant returns to enemy radar systems as part of
interface, and cockpit interfaces. In fact, of the aircraft, and multiple antennas ECM efforts. A DRFM has a wideband
the system performs continuous self- provide full 360-deg. signal coverage RF/microwave front end capable of
testing diagnostic routines and calibration while achieving high sensitivity and capturing and digitizing enemy radar
with automatic reporting to the cockpit. relative immunity from interference. systems through a high-bit-resolution
The RWR is capable of detecting and The RWR recently demonstrated single- analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and

2. The ALR-69A(V) is
an advanced RWR that
relies heavily on digital
circuitry for enhanced
performance. (Courtesy of
Raytheon Co.)

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by means of adaptive EW techniques.

Several years ago, DARPA created the
Adaptive Radar Countermeasures (ARC)
program to encourage the development of
effective means of countering the threats
represented by digitally programmable
radar systems. On the communications
side, DARPAs Behavioral Learning for
Adaptive Electronic Warfare (BLADE)
program is attempting to apply machine
learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to
counter new, dynamic threats to wireless
communications systems in tactical
Cognitive EW is still in its formative
3. Directed-energy weapons include high-energy lasers (HELs). (Courtesy of General stages, but already a number of major
Atomics Aeronautical Systems.) defense contractors are developing
systems based on the technology,
then generating false radar returns state laser technology (Fig. 3), developed including BAE Systems (www.baesystems.
with Doppler shifts and modified pulse by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems com), Boeing Co. (www.boeing.com),
characteristics by means of a high- (GA-ASI, www.ga-asi.com), has shown Lockheed Martin (www.lockheedmartin.
resolution digital-to-analog converter sufficient power to merit field testing, com), and Raytheon Co. (www.raytheon.
(DAC). The outputs from the DAC are with the expectation of being eventually com). The number of electronic devices
frequency upconvertered to the frequency compact and efficient enough for employed in battle is only expected to
band of the enemy radar and transmitted, installation on smaller aircraft, such as grow with time, and the use of cognitive
often through a towed decoy. F-22 and F-35 fighter jets. GA-ASI is also EW techniques can lead to the most
working with the Office of Naval Research effective and efficient use of those
Taking Offense (ONR) on a third-generation HEL with electronic tactical resources. n
In addition to using radiated EM 150-kW power suitable for DDG-51-class
energy to jam an opponents radar or destroyers as a weapon against smaller BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS
communications system, EW involves the boats and unmanned aircraft. As part
use of various forms of EM as weapons, of ONRs Solid-State Laser Technology
including high-power microwave sources Maturation program, the laser weapon
and high-energy lasers. A number of will be tested on one of the U.S. Navys
U.S. defense agencies, including DARPA ship-defense test vessels in 2018. The
and the Air Force Research Laboratory third-generation HEL builds upon the
(AFRL), have invested in high-energy electrically pumped laser technology Remote Spectrum Monitoring Poster
lasers (HELs) with the expectations developed for the HELLADS program. Spectrum Monitoring and Surveillance
that such EW systems could disrupt an Poster: The full size color poster
features our Remote Spectrum Monitor
adversarys radar and communications Adapting to Change family of interference hunting solutions
systems but also serve as a primary As defense electronics technologies as well as tables featuring U.S. radio
missile-defense system, for protection continue to evolve, relying more on frequency allocations.
against fast-moving missiles, such as machines such as UAVs and UGVs to
ballistic missiles and hypersonic cruise replace humans for some machines,
missiles, as well as a weapon against machines such as computers are also
enemy vehicles. DARPA and AFRL have playing larger roles in many aspects
invested in the High-Energy Liquid Laser of EW. In what is generally known
Area Defense System (HELLADS) which as cognitive EW, machine-learning
has been undergoing testing at the White algorithms are being developed to detect
Sands Missile Range, N.M. and recognize new threats and provide
The compact and light-weight solid- rapid responses to dynamic threats

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Chapter 2: RADAR

Tracking the Basics of

Military Radar Systems
Radar is one of the fundamental technologies of electronic warfare, enabling the detection of
unseen threats on the ground, in the air, and at sea.

adar is one of the longest run-
1. The Aegis weapons ning of electronic defense tech-
system incorporates nologies, conceptualized by such
many defense electronics luminaries as Heinrich Hertz and
subsystems, including an James Clerk Maxwell more than a century
AN/SPY-1 radar system ago. The technology wasnt employed in
for surveillance and early battle until World War II, however, when
warning. (Courtesy of it was also given the name radaran
Lockheed Martin) acronym for radio detection and ranging.
The concept is simple: transmit electro-
magnetic (EM) signals until they reflect
off a metal object, and then measure the
returning reflected signals to learn more
about the metal object.
Obviously, electronic technology has
changed a great deal since World War II,
when almost all electronic devices had
tubes. Modern radars are smaller, faster,
and pack enormous computing power
that makes it possible to determine great
details about the object sending back
the EM waves, also known in tactical
terms as the illuminated target. Radar
systems are no longer just for warfare,
but are used in airports around the
world, for law enforcement, for tracking
weather patterns, for homeland security
surveillance, and even for enhancing the
safety of modern motor vehicles.
That being said, a majority of key radar
applications are still for military use, either
as standalone systems or as part of larger
electromagnetic-warfare platforms that
can use radars intelligence to counter or

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(the pulse repetition frequency) and

reception is properly orchestrated, a single
antenna can be used for transmit and
receive functions. To efficiently transmit
a directed beam of energy, a radar
system often relies on highly directional
antennas. When scanning across a large
target area is necessary, the focus of the
antenna must be altered to achieve a wider
coverage area than a simple stationary
antenna with fixed beam. This is typically
done in maritime radar systems by
mechanically moving the antenna under
motor controlbut it can also be done
electronically, by shifting the phases of
2. This advanced 3D surveillance radar system provides efficient, low power multiple array elements in a phased-array
operating in a compact footprint for smaller vessels. (Courtesy of BAE Systems) antenna to achieve changes in beamwidth
and beam direction.
respond to a threat. There are many types this type of radar to get a reading on the By comparing the frequencies of
of radar used in military systems, each bearing/location of the target, using a reflected pulses to the frequencies of
with its own benefits and performance narrow horizontal beam of EM energy for transmitted pulses in a pulse Doppler
limitations. directional transmission and reception. radar, any changes in the Doppler
Radars use many different types of A radar antennas three-dimensional frequency can be used to determine any
signals in military applications; the goal is (3D) beam of directed EM energy is motion on the part of the target. Precise
to locate a target with maximum detection characterized by the power level of the timing and synchronization are needed
range and detection accuracy, and often beam along a measured beam axis. The between radar transmitter and receiver
to avoid detection by an adversarys radiation pattern is defined by the radar for accurate Doppler measurements, with
radar systems. The type of signal will beams horizontal and vertical beamwidths. high resolution possible through the use of
also determine the type of information They are usually characterized at field a low-phase-noise, high-stability reference
that can be discovered about a target, in strength or power levels that is 3 or 6 dB oscillator for the radar system. Measured
addition to how well a target of interest less than the maximum value of the radar results are shown on a radar system
can be detected when surrounded by other beam; radar systems and their antennas are display, which can use the processed
objects (known as clutter). typically characterized by their half-power radar return information to generate a
In a basic pulse Doppler radar, pulse- (3-dB) beamwidths. visual depiction of an adversarys location
modulated signals are used to determine The travel time for the pulses to reach relative to the location of the radar
the distance to a target by measuring a target is based on the speed of the transmitter.
the time in which pulses are transmitted propagating EM pulsestypically about
and then reflected back to the radar the speed of light, or about 3000,000 km/s, Signal Types
antenna. One variation on a pulse, a barring delays from different atmospheric Radar transmitters or emitters can
chirp signal, is constantly changing with effects such as clouds. The travel time operate with pulsed or continuous-
frequency; unlike a pulse, all of its spectral is approximately one-half of the total wave (CW) signals and with a variety of
components have different phases. Since pulse signal travel time; the process of modulation formats, including amplitude,
pulses are comprised of fundamental- calibrating a radar by measuring a target modulation (AM), frequency modulation
frequency sinewave signals and their at a known distance can be used to correct (FM), phase modulation (PM), and
harmonic signal components mixed for processing delays in the radar receiver. combinations of these modulation
together, they occupy wide bandwidths These systems usually have a short formats. In addition, frequency-diversity
of the frequency spectrum. They also pulse transmit on time followed by a techniques are often used with modern
require test equipment with wide-enough long-enough transmit off time so that radar systems, such as those using
bandwidths to show all features of the reflected pulses can be received without chirp techniques. In these systems, the
pulsed signals during evaluation. being masked by the next transmitted frequency may change every few pulses
Directional antennas are used with pulse. If the timing of the transmissions as a way to make detection and jamming

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Modern radar technology is widely employed in (AWS), a global missile defense system
commercial airports and vehicle safety systems, manufactured by Lockheed Martin (www.
lockheedmartin.com) for the U.S. Navy
as well as in law enforcement, but it is first and (Fig. 1). Among its missiles and control
foremost an important electronic system for systems, the AWS relies on an AN/
military applications. SPY-1 radar system for surveillance and
early warning. The high-power radar
transmitter uses pulsed power levels to 6
from an adversary more difficult. call for sophisticated signal processing MW to illuminate more than 100 targets
The frequency changes may occur in a algorithms. at one time at more than 100 nautical
linear fashion, or else in a less-predictable Modern radar technology is widely miles away.
manner (i.e., in a radar system with employed in commercial airports and When smaller targets, such as
nonlinear chirped pulses). In addition, vehicle safety systems, as well as in law UAVs are a concern, a smaller, lower-
techniques such as frequency-hopping enforcement, but it is first and foremost an power radar system will provide the
radar signals are also used to randomly important electronic system for military necessary performance. One such
move radar frequencies around a wide applications. Many different types of radar example is the Advanced Radar Target
total spectrum, making it harder for an systems are used globally for combat or to Indication Situation Awareness and
adversary to tune an intercept receiver at prevent military issues, with military radar Navigation (Artisan) three-dimensional
the proper frequency. systems of different sizes and frequencies (3D) surveillance radar system (Fig.
For the sake of laboratory measurements supporting defense electronic systems 2) developed by BAE Systems (www.
or for a radar-warning receiver (RWR) on land, at sea, and in the air. Some of baesystems.com) for the United Kingdoms
attempting to measure a suspect radars the radar frequencies in use include at Royal Navy It is considerably lower
characteristics, the basic performance L-band (1,215 to 1,400 MHz), S-band (2 power than the Aegis system, for shorter
parameters for a radar system emitter to 4 GHz), C-band (4 to 8 GHz), X-band detection range, but benefits from
or transmitter include signal frequency, (8 to 12 GHz), Ku-band (12 to 18 GHz), advantages in size, weight, and power
amplitude, angle of arrival (AOA), time K-band (18 to 27 GHz), Ka-band (27 to consumption compared to Aegis. n
of arrival (TOA), pulse width, pulse 40 GHz), and V-band (75 to 110 GHz)
repetition frequency (PRF), and scan frequencies. BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS
rate (both for motorized or phased-
array radars). Some emitter parameters, Some Prime Examples
which can be measured with a single Military radar systems perform
pulsesuch as frequency, amplitude, and a number of functions, including
pulse widthcan be measured with a surveillance, tracking, moving target
monopulse tracking radar. indication (MTI), direction finding (DF),
Other radar emitter parameters, such missile guidance radar, over-the-horizon
as PRI and PRF, can be determined (OTH) radar, space-based radar (SBR)
only by analyzing a group of pulses. All systems, and synthetic aperture radar Understanding VNA Guide
This 62 page guide will introduce
these parameters are useful for emitter (SAR) systems. One of the largest and
the basic fundamentals of the
identification; unfortunately, they require better known military radar systems
Vector Network Analyzer (VNA).
time for data collection and analysis, and is part of the Aegis Weapon System

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Looking to the Sky for

Guidance and Direction
Using signals from multiple orbiting satellites, navigation systems provide global positioning and
timing information.

atellite navigation and 1. This GPS III satellite
guidance have become almost is one of at least 24
afterthoughts for the many users satellites in orbit that
of the Global Positioning System provide codes signals
(GPS) and its orbiting satellites. The space- for positioning and
based radionavigation system is used for navigation. (Courtesy
positioning and directions almost on a of www.gps.gov)
daily basis for some commercial users, and
is also a valuable tool for military forces in
precisely defining locations and positions
as well as providing reference-standard
GPS signals are fairly ubiquitous
around the world, but the system is not
unique: A number of other satellite-based
navigation systems are in operation,
including Russias GLONASS system. All
of these satellite systems provide varying
degrees of precision and accuracy, and
all are subject to degraded or interrupted
performance as a result of jamming. centered orbital planes, with each orbital precise satellite orbital configuration. The
These concerns have motivated U.S. plane equipped with four operational ground station also monitors the timing
government agencies such as the Federal satellites and one spare. The satellites of the system and makes reference clock
Aviation Administration (FAA) to invest orbit 22,000 km (14,000 miles) above corrections as needed for the satellites to
in enhanced versions of GPS. the surface of the Earth, and circle the transmit signals that provide precise user
GPS is operated and maintained by Earth twice each day in precise orbits that position, velocity, and time (PVT). At
the U.S. Air Force (USAF). It consists are spaced 60 deg. about the equator in least four satellites are always in view to
of three different types of components: 55-deg. inclination relative to the equator. a users receiver, no matter the location.
the satellites, ground control network Each satellite transmits two signals: the Users then receive these signals from
equipment, and end-user equipment for L1 signal at 1,575.42 MHz, and the L2 multiple satellites to determine PVT data
receiving transmissions from the satellites signal at 1,227.60 MHz. The GPS ground rapidly from most locations while in a
(Fig. 1). It was originally designed to station (Fig. 2) monitors signals from the passive listen-only mode without need
operate with a total of 24 low-Earth-orbit satellites in terms of precision and signal of interacting with the user equipment or
(LEO) satellites positioned in six Earth- integrity (SI), all the while maintaining a the GPS ground station.

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The GPS Ground Control Networks time signal using code-division-multiple- spares, with each using 12 frequencies.
Master Control Station (MCS) is the access (CDMA) modulation techniques. The frequencies consist of L1 and L2
heart of the systems operator ground By measuring the time delay for a signal signals: The L1 range from 1598.0625
equipment, maintained by the U.S. to reach a receiver from a satellite, the to 1609.3125 MHz, and are modulated
Air Force and located at Schriever Air apparent range or pseudo range can be by high precision (HP) and standard
Force Base (formerly Falcon AFB) near determined. precision (SP) codes. The L2 range from
Colorado Springs, Co.). GPS satellite Measurements performed 1,242.9375 to 1,251.6875 MHz, with
orbits are continuously tracked by six simultaneously based on four signals HP and SP modulation, using the same
Air Force monitoring stations around from four satellites make it possible SP modulation as for the L1 signals.
the world in different longitudes. These to solve for precise location regarding The satellites transmit the same codes at
monitoring stations perform the satellite latitude, longitude, and altitude, as well different frequencies, using frequency-
networks data collection. Two cesium as for time. Position measurements are division-multiple-access (FDMA)
atomic clocks referenced to GPS system in the worldwide WGS-84 geodetic modulation. As the number of satellites
time are located at each monitoring station reference system, and time is with respect in the GLONASS constellation increases
for precise timing. to a worldwide common U.S. Naval further, the number of signals used per
GPS operation is based on satellite Observatory Time (USNO) reference. receiver will increase to three.
ranging. The satellites serve as precise The orbits of the GLOSNASS satellites
reference locations in space, and a user Other Orbits occur every 8/17 daysi.e., the satellite
measures their position by measuring the By way of comparison, the Russian constellation repeats every eight days after
distance from the multiple satellite signal GLONASS system, which is operated having completed 17 orbital revolutions.
sources within range of the receiver. Each by the Russian Aerospace Defense Each orbital plane contains eight
satellite transmits an accurate position and Forces, has 24 satellites and three equallyspaced satellites, with one of the

2. The GPS Master Control Station (MCS) is located at Schriever AFB near Colorado Springs, Co). (Courtesy of www.gps.gov)

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accuracy degrades with distance from the

The GPS Ground Control Networks Master Control reference receiver.
Station (MCS) is the heart of the systems operator The DoD is currently pursuing
ground equipment, maintained by the U.S. Air alternative means of achieving
positioning, navigation, and timing
Force and located at Schriever Air Force Base. (PNT) functions, arguing that GPS is
not always reliable, and signals from
satellites in the same spot in the sky at the positioning service (SPS) for the general the satellite are not always available in
same sidereal time each day. The satellites public and the precision positioning locations where military forces require
orbit about 19,410 km from the Earths service (PPS), for members of the military full functionality. In addition, the
surface, or about 1,060 km lower than and allies. There is roughly a 5-to-1 effectiveness of the GPS system can be
GPS satellites. improvement in positioning resolution limited by an adversary through jamming
Yet another national satellite navigation with PPS compared to SPS (positioning to or signal spoofing. Alternative methods
system, the BeiDou Navigation Satellite within 20 m, compared to within 100 m). of timing and location involve the use
System, is operated by the China National At one time, the DoD intentionally limited of precision atomic clocks and inertial
Space Administration. This system the accuracy of the satellite navigation navigation systems. At the same time,
employs both global and regional satellites system to civilian users by means of a the FAA is developing the Wide Area
in space, with global satellites orbiting tactic known as selective availability Augmentation System (WAAS) and the
the Earth much like global satellites in the (SA). The DoD achieved the increased Ground Based Augmentation System
other global satellite navigation systems; errors by dithering satellite reference (GBAS) as alternatives to GPS for safe
the regional satellites are visible only clocks. The practice was discontinued in operation of flights when GPS availability
over the Eastern hemisphere. The BeiDou 2000. is questionable. The two systems are
system, or COMPASS as it is sometimes An enhanced version of GPS is designed to work together to enhance
known, is a work in progress, as is the differential GPS (DGPS), which involves navigation capabilities during flights. n
European Space Agencys Galileo satellite the use of a second receiver for improved
navigation system. The latter is being positioning accuracy by removing errors BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS
planned for a total of 30 orbiting satellites. that are common to the second, reference
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) receiver and to the users receiver. Ideally,
is responsible for the GPS system, which a users receiver is within a few hundred
has two levels of precision: the standard miles of the reference receiver, since the

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3. GPS satellites are placed in precise orbits by means of rocket launches, such
as this Delta II rocket launching the fifth GPS IIR(M) satellite in December 2007.
(Courtesy of www.gps.gov)

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Unmanned Vehicles
Provide Remote Access
Whether used to provide surveillance, perform exploration, or carry weapons, UAVs have become
essential to many fighting forces around the world.

emote-controlled vehicles were
once considered a novelty
among troops in the field
more akin to the gas-powered
planes that hobbyists flew on weekends.
But as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
become more established tools in warfare,
and as major defense contractors focus
on designing UAVs with enhanced
capabilities, they are no longer considered
toys. In fact, larger drones are capable
of flying in the same airspace as piloted
aircraft and carrying considerable
weaponry for offensive missions. 1. The RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk is one of the best known of military UAVs,
UAVs come in all shapes and sizes. in service for the U.S. Air Force since 2001 with more than 200,000 flight hours.
Insect-sized drones with wireless cameras (Courtesy of Northrop Grumman)
have been developed for quick surveillance
missions. Meanwhile, larger aircraft (4.7 m). It has a range of 12,300 nautical and situational awareness over large areas.
capable of carrying several passengers can miles (22,780 km) and a maximum That sensor suite includes an electro-
climb to altitudes of thousands of feet. The altitude of 60,000 ft. (18.3 km), and can optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera for
Global Hawk from Northrop Grumman handle a payload of 3,000 lb. (1360 kg). 360-deg. imaging during day and night
(www.northropgrumman.com)or, more The Global Hawk can stay in the air for as missions, and a synthetic-aperture-radar
accurately, the RQ-4 Block 30 Global long as 32 h and achieve a true air speed (SAR) system for long-range imaging in
Hawk (Fig. 1)is perhaps the best known (TAS) of 310 knots by means of a Rolls- all weather conditions. A Global Hawk
UAV for military applications. In service Royce 3007 turbofan engine with 8,500 also carries a moving-target-indication
for more than 15 years, the long-range lb. of thrust. It can be well equipped with (MTI) radar system.
unmanned aircraft system (UAS) has electronic subsystems, including multiple The imaging quality of these sensors
logged more than 200,000 flight hours satellite-communications (satcom) and makes it possible to distinguish various
since starting active service with the U.S. line-of-sight (LOS) communications types of vehicles, aircraft, people, and
Air Force. systems. missiles at day or night and even under
The Global Hawk is meant for long- This large UAV employs an enhanced adverse weather conditions. All sensor
distance flights at high altitudes, with a integrated sensor suite (EISS) and an systems are controlled by a common
length of 47.6 ft. (14.5 m), a wingspan of airborne signals intelligence payload microprocessor; consequently, a UAV
130.9 ft. (39.9 m), and height of 15.4 ft. (ASIP) for enhanced intelligence gathering commander has ready access to the

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takeoff in limited areas. The small size of

many UAVs, such as the Indago, makes
them conveniently portable for transport
to a location in need of surveillance or
further study. In addition to the Indago,
the company has developed an extensive
portfolio of UAVs for military, civil, and
commercial use, including the Desert
Hawk, the Stalker, and the Vector Hawk.
The Indago UAV (Fig. 2) features a
quad-rotor configuration with a modular
payload design that allows different
electronic function modules to be quickly
connected and disconnected to best serve
2. The Indago UAV uses a modular payload design for flexibility and a quad-rotor the requirements of a particular mission.
drive system. It is used in military applications as well as by civil authorities for Modules are available in support of
police work. (Courtesy of Lockheed Martin) agriculture, various forms of inspection,
mapping, reconnaissance, surveillance,
intelligence provided by the Global Hawk demonstrations of two sensors previously and surveying. The modular format and
and can transfer this intelligence in near unavailable on the Global Hawk, which agility of the Indago have made the UAV
real time to warfighters in the region. are high-performance optical sensors a popular choice of civil authorities for
Northrop Grumman began flight testing designed for imaging intelligence, police work in locating missing persons,
an MS-177 sensor payload aboard the surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and even for Homeland Security for
Global Hawk with a successful inaugural applications. border patrols. It can be folded for ease
flight earlier in 2017. The MS-177 sensor Although the Global Hawk has a design of storage in a backpack, and its hand
package enables the aircraft not only based on a conventional manned aircraft, controller works with other types of
to detect and identify targets, but also not all UAVs follow this formula. Some (fixed-wing) UAVs for versatility.
to track and assess the threat potential smaller UAVs, such as the Indago from The Indago UAV has a running time
of a target by means of multiple sensor Lockheed Martin (www.lockheedmartin. or endurance of about 50 minutes,
modalities and fast switching between com), are based on rotary-wing which translates into a range of 2 to 10
sensors. The testing, which is expected configurations and helicopters and are km depending upon such factors as the
to continue throughout 2017, features designed more for vertical landing and radio, antenna, and terrain. The Indago
measures 12 9 7 in. folded and 32
32 7 in. unfolded with a weight of about
5 lb. (2.3 kg), depending upon payload. It
has a typical operating altitude to 500 ft.
and provides on-board recording of high-
definition (HD) video and still images.
Some larger rotary-wing UAVs, such
as the Unmanned Little Bird H-6U from
Boeing (www.boeing.com), can achieve
impressive altitudes for multitask missions,
such as mapping and surveillance, and
can even take along a passenger. The
Unmanned Little Bird H-6U (Fig. 3) has
a rotor diameter of 27.5 ft. (8.38 m) and
achieves a ceiling of 20,000 ft. (6,100
m). It can stay aloft for about 6 hr., with
a useful payload of 1,200 lb. (544 kg)
3. The Unmanned Little Bird H-6U is one of the larger rotary-wing UAVs, with when manned and 1,400 lb. (635 kg)
endurance of 6 hr. and ceiling of about 20,000 ft. (Courtesy of Boeing Co.) when unmanned. The UAV uses Ku-band

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frequencies for its tactical common data nonprofit research offshoot of New Yorks
link (TCDL). Syracuse University. SRC had developed
Along with extremely quiet drive extensive technology for different types of
systems, such as that on the Indago radar, including moving-target-indication
UAV, some drones are designed to be so (MTI) and synthetic-aperture-radar (SAR)
small that they are almost unnoticeable. systems. SRC would develop several
One notable example of this is the Black counter-drone systems, including their
Hornet Nano UAV (Fig. 4). This tiny Silent Archer system (Fig. 5). It uses a
drone is produced by Prox Dynamics combination of methods, including radar,
(www.proxdynamics.com), which was cameras, and jammers to detect, track and
recently acquired by Flir Unmanned Aerial defeat small, low-flying drones. n
Systems (www.flir.com) for the United
Kingdoms Ministry of Defence. Intended BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS
for surveillance missions, the UAV is only
about 100 mm long with a rotor span of 4. The Black Hornet Nano UAV is among
120 mm. It weighs only about 16 g, even the smallest of military drones, at about
factoring in three surveillance cameras 100 mm long with a rotor span of 120
concealed within its nose. mm. (Courtesy of Prox Dynamics)
The Black Hornet Nano features an
aerodynamic shape with a rugged plastic- Gremlins program. Of course, as the
Understanding Cable
molded shell, and has been deployed in number of UAVs grows in all applications, & Antenna Analysis
Afghanistan for surveillance. The pocket- it becomes necessary to develop methods This guide provides an overview of
sized UAV flies about 10 m/s and has a for neutralizing an adversarys use of the fundamentals of cable analysis
range of about 1.6 km. In fact, a soldier UAVs through counter-drone techniques. including the basic measurements
has no problem carrying a complete The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and techniques before moving on
PD-100 Black Hornet system into the has been well aware for some time of the to more advanced measurements
field. It consists of two UAVs and a potential threat posed by an armed drone for the experienced user.
controller in its own backpack for portable evading detection. In response, it began
use. hosting the annual Black Dart exercise
for companies interested in developing
Counter-Drone Solutions technologies that could detect, track, and
DARPA has funded UAVs from small to defeat enemy drones.
large over the past decade, with a current One of the participants, and eventually
interest in how swarms of UAVs can be a contract winner, was SRC, Inc. (www.
optimized for battle as part of the ongoing srcinc.com), which had been operating as a

5. The Silent Archer system uses radar, cameras, and jammers to detect and defeat
enemy drones. (Courtesy of SRC, Inc.)

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IR Technology Helps
to See in the Dark
Infrared detectors are still being improved in terms of price and performance, but they have shown
to be important tools in night missions and for firefighters needing to see through smoke.

ision is an important part of an
electronic defense systems and,
for tactical applications, vision
involves numerous parts of the
electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. These
include radio waves in radar, visible light,
andour focus for this chapterinfrared
(IR) light in various night-vision systems.
IR technology is a significant tool for most
night-time missions, for identification
friend or foe (IFF) systems. given its utility
fordifferentiatingsfromswhenis limited As
with other EM technologies, DARPA is
seeking advances in terms of performance
and affordability to make IR technology 1. Images detected by IR sensors tend to be monochromatic. (Courtesy of the U.S.
more available to all warfighters. Army Research Laboratory; www.arl.mil)
DARPAs Low Cost Thermal Imager -
Manufacturing (LCTI-M) program is goggles is usually at 1.550 m, which is combinations of visible and IR light
part of a strategy to make IR imaging considered eye-safe since it doesnt cause to make an object more visible in the
technology available to every warfighter. damage to the cornea. dark of under conditions that otherwise
The IR spectrum is adjacent to the IR sensors are one of the components obscure vision, such as heavy fog. Both
visible spectrum, with wavelengths of in modern military night-vision goggles, DARPA and individual branches of the
about 400 to 700 nm. The IR spectrum is which combine visible light enhancement military, such as the U.S. Armys Night
divided into four segments: near infrared with IR imaging. Suppliers such as FLIR Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate,
(NIR), with wavelengths of about 900 to Systems (www.flir.com) employ compound have been seeking more effective and
1,770 nm; short-wave infrared (SWIR), semiconductor materials (e.g., cadmium affordable night-vision solutions. Their
with wavelengths of about 1.7 to 3.0 telluride and indium antimonide) typical approach to this has been to study
m; medium-wave infrared (MWIR), in producing the detectors. The IR the photonic characteristics of various
with wavelengths of about 3.0 to 8.0 m; detectors are fabricated as focal plane materials and determine how they might
and long-wave infrared (LWIR), with arrays and employ cooling for enhanced be applied to developing passive IR
wavelengths of about 7.5 to 11.0 m. performance. sensors capable of high sensitivity.
This corresponds to a frequency range of Tactical IR-based tools include In fact, the U.S. Armys Night Vision
about 300 GHz to 430 THz. The use of weapon sites, cameras, thermal imagers, and Electronic Sensors Directorate has
IR imaging technology for night vision and night-vision goggles, often using a laboratory at Fort Belvoir, Va. that

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Work on night-vision solutions has been ongoing sensitive within just one part of the IR
spectra, such as only with SWIR or LWIR
since World War II, with early night-vision systems radiation, although device and material
requiring that a target was illuminated in order to researchers have been pursuing more
wideband detectors with sensitivity to the
be detected.
full IR spectrum. Work at the University
of Michigan, for example, has led to a
focuses on IR sensors, where part of simple: As the temperature of a target room-temperature sensor capable of
the research involves the development increases, the amount of IR radiation detecting the full IR spectrum when
of usable information from detected emitted by the target also increases. fabricated as a thin film. One of the goals
images. Because IR sensor images are One key to the practical use of IR image of the research is to incorporate thermal-
monochromatic, the Army is always trying detection in the battlefieldor for detection capabilities into a contact lens
to improve the resolution of the sensors so any other application where it might and further extend the use of IR/thermal
that force is applied in the proper places. make sense, such as for firefighters in detection in tactical applications. Based on
The researchers are also trying to find seeing through smoke in a fireis the graphene, or material formed of a single
ways to make the sensors smaller, less development of IR detectors with adequate layer of carbon items, the researchers have
expensive, and less power-hungry, as with sensitivity to create images from a developed sensors capable of detecting the
much of the defense electronics equipment sufficient distance from the target, without full spectrum of IR light, although with
carried into battle. need of liquid nitrogen (LN2) to lower limited sensitivity.
Work on night-vision solutions has been noise and increase detection sensitivity. IR detectors do not distinguish among
ongoing since World War II, with early Modern night-vision goggles typically the different wavelengths emitted by a
night-vision systems requiring that a target combine several detection methods target; as a result, reconstructed images
was illuminated in order to be detected. IR to enable imaging under low-light tend to be monochromatic (Fig. 1). A
illumination was provided by large, truck- conditions. number of organizations within the
mounted sources. As with all electronics IR detectors have traditionally been military are pursuing improvements
used by the military, the current trend is in IT technology, notably for higher-
to reduce size, weight, and power where resolution, higher-sensitivity room-
possible. Night- or enhanced-vision temperature sensors. For example, the U.S.
systems work in one of two ways: image ARL is interested in a number of novel
intensification or IR detection. In the first sensor technologies, and IR detectors in
approach, available ambient light (such as particular. The goal of work related to
moonlight) is amplified to create an image its sensor research is 100% situational
of a target. awareness for its troops, day or night,
The second approach relies on thermal under all environmental conditions.
imaging, detection of the IR energy One current issue being addressed is
that is emitted by living things and the the difference in detection capabilities
objects around them. This technique between cooled and uncooled IR
works effectively when no ambient light is sensors, with a goal to close the gap in
present, as is the case when underground performance between the two types of IR
or in a tunnel. In turn, IR lasers of sensors. Research opportunities exist for
sufficient power and directivity can be the development of photonic components
used to illuminate an intended target with based on quantum-confined devices and
nonvisible light energy, detectable only semiconductor materials suitable for use
by IR sensors. Forward-looking infrared in the 1-to-24-m-wavelength IR region.
(FLIR) technology is often used in aircraft ARL is also interested in the development
with a thermographic camera to detect IR of devices with somewhat larger EM
radiation. IR sensors are often mounted 2. IR patches help to identify different wavelengths for the UV spectral region.
on the underside of an aircraft in order to personnel to protect troops from friendly Many IR detectors consist of focal
detect thermal IR images during a night- fire under conditions of low visible light. plane arrays, configured for efficient
time flyover. (Courtesy of IR.Tools; www.ir.tools/ collection of IR energy. Studies have
The principle of IR detection is fairly military) focused not only on how to ultimately

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develop room-temperature materials When it absorbs enough IR energy to on remaining unseen by an adversarys
capable of detecting IR energy, but also a exceed the bandgap, the resistance of IR detectors through the use of textile
single IR detector capable of doing what the semiconductor material changes materials capable of suppressing both EMI
focal plane arrays currently do in terms of and, consequently, the output voltage. and thermal emissions. As IR technology
IR detection effectiveness. A number of Both types of IR detectors are limited becomes more commercialized in such
different materials have been investigated, to different wavelengths by the type of products as night-vision cameras, the
including barium titanium oxide (BaTiO3) semiconductor material. costs of the technology decrease closer to
and barium strontium titanium oxide As a complement to tactical IR having some form of night-vision sensors
(BaTiSrO3) films. photodetectors, patches are often worn or vision aide available for all members of
IR sensors can be fabricated as for night missions for IFF purposes. the troops. n
photovoltaic or photoconductive detectors. Suppliers such as IR.Tools (www.ir.tools/
Photovoltaic detectors are formed of military) have supplied millions of BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS
P- and N-type semiconductor materials, identifying patches (Fig. 2) that provide
such as GaAs, with a P-N junction and a means of identifying different troops
a depletion region. When the depletion when illuminated by IR radiation, such as
region absorbs IR photons with enough by night-vision goggles. The patches are
energy to exceed the bandgap, a current available for use with both IR imaging and
results. A selected semiconductor material thermal imaging detection systems for
is typically sensitive to IR photons in a protection from friendly fire.
very narrow wavelength range, resulting To meet military requirements for Remote Spectrum Monitoring Poster
in what has traditionally been different IR lower size, weight, power, and cost, Spectrum Monitoring and Surveillance
sensors used for different IR wavelengths. future work on IR detectors will focus on Poster: The full size color poster
features our Remote Spectrum Monitor
In contrast, a photoconductive IR identifying viable semiconductor materials
family of interference hunting solutions
detector is formed of either P- or N-type and getting them to operate with single
as well as tables featuring U.S. radio
semiconductor material and must be devices rather than the complexity of frequency allocations.
biased for sensitivity to IR photons. focal plane arrays. Research also continues

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Tactical Radios Battle

Interference, Threats
Portable tactical radio systems have evolved from simple single-channel transceivers into software-
dominated programmable tools, ever trending toward smaller sizes and higher power efficiencies.

actical radio communications
function to keep troops informed,
Modern infantry carry full often under less-than-ideal
sets of tools, including conditions. Two-way radios have
robust portable two-way been designed into various mechanical
radios. (Courtesy of DARPA) configurations, whether for airborne,
vehicular, or backpack transport. Military
radios must deal with rough terrain,
interference, and hostile jammers. They
have long been based on superheterodyne
front-ends, although newer technologies
are helping to improve performance and
increase flexibility.
The quest for a universal radio
platform that could serve allies as well
as different branches of the U.S. military,
fostered by such efforts as the Joint
Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program
and the single-channel ground and
airborne radio systems (SINCGARS)
program, has fueled the development
of such technologies as frequency-agile
synthesizers and software-defined-radio
(SDR) architectures. These efforts have
enhanced performance, albeit without
real reductions in size and/or power
consumption, which remain current
design goal targets.
The use of SDR technology in tactical
radios permits the use of specific
communications waveforms, such as
the soldier radio waveform (SRW), for
enhanced security. Still, SDR has its
limitations. It relies on power-hungry

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less problematic in the vehicular versions

of manpack radios. Typically, with larger
size and weight come higher transmit
power and range when comparing
manpack and vehicular radios designed
for the same frequency band.
For example, Thales Group (www.
thalesgroup.com) is a long-time supplier of
HF, VHF, and UHF military radios, with
both backpack and vehicular versions of
similarly featured radios. The TRC3700
is a manpack radio (Fig. 1) based on
SDR technology and designed for use
1. The TRC3700 is a portable back-pack tactical radio with a range of 600 km at HF. at HF. It weighs less than 4 kg without
(Courtesy of Thales Group) the rechargeable battery and achieves a
communications range to 600 km using
digital-signal-processing (DSP) circuitry, or SSB radios at HP, VHF, or UHF. 20-W transmit power. The TRC3730
and power is limited in the field where And while SDR technology is often HF radio (Fig. 2) uses the same SDR
radio operating time is equal to the power considered synonymous with cognitive architecture but with a much larger
contained in a rechargeable battery pack. radio technology, the technologies transmit power amplifier for greater range.
SDR-based radio systems also require are not the same. SDR allows a user to It has a maximum radio range of 1,500
software upgrades from time to time, program a radios operating parameters. A km by means of 125-W transmit power,
and such upgrades present opportunities cognitive radio shifts control of a radios although it is no longer a manpack radio
for cyber-threats to the radio operating- frequencies, channels, and other operating and is designed into several units for
system software. parameters from the operator to the radios vehicular use.
The use of SDR technology microprocessor. In theory, a cognitive As detailed in the final chapter of this
nonetheless continues to grow in radio can detect available channels in a e-book, the best tactical radio will fall
tactical radio systems, even while the wireless network and configure a radio short without a properly matched antenna.
same technology is also widely adopted automatically for the most efficient use of Single-channel military radios usually
in commercial wireless networks, in available bandwidth in a region. work with a single antenna for transmit
base stations, and small cell sites. With Traditional manpack portable tactical and receive, although they can operate
their programmability, modern SDR- radios are ruggedly built and occupy a in duplex mode with separate transmit
based radios can be adapted to different somewhat large portion of a soldiers and receive antennas. Wavelengths are
operating modes to function as AM, FM, backpack, although the size and weight are large at HF so antennas are also large at

3. The Whetstone vehicular tactical

radio is a multiple-band system capable
of working at VHF, UHF, and satcom
2. The TRC3730 is a vehicular version of the TRC3700 HF radio with higher transmit frequency bands. (Courtesy of Lockheed
power and greater communications range (1500 km). (Courtesy of Thales Group) Martin)

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4. Portable test (Fig. 4). It is essentially a test system

sets such as this built around the core of a tactical radio,
provide the means battery operated for use in the field. Like
for testing and the radios it tests, the 3515 is the result
maintaining portable of steady evolution of the features and
tactical radios in the functions needed to test avionics radios,
field. (Courtesy of vehicular radios, and backpack radios.
Cobham/Aeroflex) The 3515 can be programmed for
specific standards-based tests or used
manually. For its small size, it packs all
the instruments needed to find faults
in tactical radios. It contains a signal
generator with range from 2 MHz to 1
GHz, an oscilloscope, an RF power meter,
an audio meter, a spectrum analyzer,
and an antenna/cable tester. It is just one
example of the tactical radio test solutions
available to help the troops ultimately get
the message through. n


those frequencies. That being said, some SINCGARS systems, but includes satellite-
antennas, such as whip or loop antennas, communications (satcom) capability.
can be configured with movable segments. It is small enough to be mounted into
This facilitates portability while also any combat vehicle and is modular and
helping an HF radio achieve maximum scalable for providing critical voice, Understanding VNA Guide
communications range using ground-wave data, and video communications even This 62 page guide will introduce
EM propagation. for locations that might normally be the basic fundamentals of the
considered on the edge of a tactical Vector Network Analyzer (VNA).
Reaching Higher communications network.
Of course, for all of its flexibility and Whetstone radios can operate in the
versatility, SDR technology will not VHF FM frequency range from 30 to 88
overcome the normal limitations of single- MHz using 25-kHz channels and have
channel tactical radio communications single-channel and frequency-hopping
systems, such as limited radio-wave modes, with 111 frequency hops/s to
propagation distance as a function of ensure high security and resistance to
transmit power and limited data rate as jamming. With their satcom capabilities,
a function of channel bandwidth. But they can use the wide transmission
designers of tactical communications bandwidths to communicate satellite
radios have learned how to leverage SDR imaging, video, and large amounts of data
architectures to achieve enhancements of to troops in remote locations.
traditional battlefield radios. Considering the large number of
As an example, the Whetstone vehicular tactical radios used in the field by even
radio (Fig. 3) developed several years one branch of the military, testing and
ago by Lockheed Martin is nominally maintenance are vital practices that are
a terrestrial tactical radio that is aided by a number of portable commercial
compatible with VHF and UHF ground- test sets. The 3515 from Cobham/Aeroflex
based and airborne radios, including (www.aeroflex.com) is one such example

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Evaluating Antennas and

Arrays for Electronic Defense
Portable tactical radio systems have evolved from simple single-channel transceivers into software-
dominated programmable tools, ever trending toward smaller sizes and higher power efficiencies.

lectronic defense systems radiation pattern. Some systems adopted many different antenna
employing receivers and are narrowband, while others formats over the years, including
transmitters rely on antennas. operate over broader bandwidths. wire antennas such as leaky
From the simplest dipoles for Portable manpack radios, for coaxial cables, monopoles, dipoles,
portable radios to larger radiators of example, operate at frequencies helix antennas printed-circuit-
radar systems, the antenna is the interface from 30 MHz to 6 GHz across board (PCB) antennas based on
between EM waves and electronic multiple systems, although a microstrip transmission lines,
hardware. Military applications have single light-weight antenna such and waveguide lens and horn
driven some antenna technologies, such as a dipole (Fig. 1) may provide antennas. In addition, arrays
as radars encouraging the development enough bandwidth for all of those of multiple antenna elements,
of phased arrays and beam steering, systems. such as electronically scanned
which have become widely adopted in arrays (ESAs) or phased-array
commercial systems. Military systems Analyzing Antennas antennas, are used to create highly
designers have many antenna technologies Antennas are characterized by directional beams for surveillance
from which to choose, and the numerous parameters, including or radar systems.
requirements of an application will usually frequency, bandwidth, directivity, Antenna elements are often
provide the guidelines for an optimum gain, efficiency, effective aperture, combined with focusing elements
choice. polarization, input impedance, such as directors and reflectors to
An antennas mechanical and electrical power-handling capability, and achieve more directional behavior.
characteristics will determine how well front-to-back ratio. Antennas can The size of an antennas resonant
it fits a particular system. For example, be considered active or passive, element in terms of fractional
smaller, lighter antennas match well with although an active antenna wavelength will determine its
portable systems or in mobile applications usually means that an antenna frequency response. For example,
such as for unmanned aerial vehicles element has been integrated with a monopole or dipole that is the
(UAVs). Larger antennas are better suited an amplifier to boost the gain. same size as one-quarter or one-
for stationary installations and where high An antenna of any form radiates half wavelength of a particular
transmit power levels are required, such as and detects EM waves, with frequency will resonate at that
in radars. propagation of the waves along frequency. A reflector will help
An antenna can receive or transmit, the ground at lower frequencies focus radiant EM energy to and
and often must do both. Radars typically and more through free space and
require antennas with very directional line of sight at higher frequencies 1. The dipole is one of the simplest forms of
radiation patterns; in contrast, a radio (as well as when equipment is in antennas, often used for portable electronic
network works better with an antenna spacee.g., a satellite). devices such as tactical radios. (Courtesy of
providing more of an omnidirectional Military applications have Radiall; www.radiall.com)

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Antennas are characterized by numerous An antennas effective aperture defines the

parameters, including frequency, bandwidth, area available for radiating or receiving
EM energy, with larger areas translating
directivity, gain, efficiency, effective aperture, into higher gains.
polarization, input impedance, power-handling Because EM waves propagate with
some form of polarization, antennas are
capability, and front-to-back ratio. polarized to match. When the electric (E)
field components of an EM wave are at
from the antenna element, and a feed Large antenna elements, or arrays right angles to the surface of the Earth,
to the antenna element will provide the with many separate antenna elements, the wave is considered vertically polarized.
connection to a receiver, transmitter, or are needed to achieve highly directional When they are parallel to the surface
other electronic portions of a system. antenna beams. An antennas beamwidth of the Earth, the wave is horizontally
Radiation patterns provide the describes the amount of coverage that can polarized. For the best performance,
means for comparing the directional be expected from the antenna, with the the antenna for a particular application
characteristics of different antennas. beamwidth usually given in terms of the should be oriented in the same direction
A radiation pattern can be created by angular measurement points where the as the EM waves E field: a vertically
measuring the radiated energy at different radiated power is one-half the amount polarized antenna with vertically polarized
angles and the same distance from the of the antennas full radiated power EM waves, and a horizontally polarized
center of the antenna. Measured values level, such as a 90-deg. beamwidth (the antenna with horizontally polarized EM
can be plotted on either rectangular beamwidth of an ideal dipole antenna). waves.
or polar coordinate systems, although An antennas output power is usually It is possible for EM waves to have
the latter is probably more familiar to specified as the effective or equivalent a rotating E field, and those waves are
most engineers (Fig. 2). In the polar isotropic radiated power (EIRP), which considered to have circular or elliptical
format, measured power levels from the is the amount of power that an ideal polarization, with both vertical and
antenna are shown on points along a omnidirectional (isotropic) antenna would horizontal E-field components. The
series of equally spaced concentric circles radiate to produce the peak power density E-field rotation may be clockwise (right-
representing the full 360 deg. around the in the direction of maximum antenna handed circular polarization; RHCP) or
antenna. Points further from the center gain. For an actual antenna, the maximum counter-clockwise (left-handed circular
represent higher radiated power levels. In gain and output power only occur within polarization; LHCP). Circular polarization
this way, it is possible to visualize the EM a relatively narrow angular area, but for results when equal magnitudes of
field radiated from a particular antenna, an isotropic antenna, the same gain and vertically and horizontally polarized waves
including mainlobes and sidelobes. output power are assumed at all angles. are combined with a phase difference of
90 deg.
At lower frequencies such as HF,
330 30 2. Antenna radiation where the EM waves travel mostly along
3d patterns plotted in the ground, antennas with vertical
Be polar coordinates polarization work best. At higher
10 wi provide a clear frequencies such as VHF and UHF, with
300 dt 60
and simple means more of the EM waves traveling through
20 of visualizing an the air, antennas with either vertical or
antennas radiated horizontal polarization work fineso long
40 energy. (Courtesy as the same type of antenna is used for
270 90 of Astron Wireless transmit and receive. When there are no
Technologies LLC; ground effects, as is the case with satellites,
www.astronwireless. circular polarization can support high data
com) rates.
240 120
Measuring Performance
The radiation pattern of an antenna
can be measured and modeled close to
210 150 the antenna (in its near field) or further

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from the antenna (in its far field) at a mounted in place. measured power levels to those from a
minimum distance defined by various Measurements of an antenna under test reference antenna with known gain.
standards, including those of the IEEE. (AUT) can be made with a microwave Mathematical software and simulation
Depending upon the size of an antenna, vector network analyzer (VNA), a software based on EM theory can provide
measurements are usually conducted in source antenna, and a test signal source. effective, efficient tools for predicting
a shielded room lined with EM absorber Additional mechanical positioning the effects of modifications on antenna
material to minimize interference and equipment such as x-y positioners may performance. Ultimately, this reduces
reflections. For larger antennas, such as for be required to align the antennas and set the time and expense associated with
shipboard radar systems, measurements different measurement positions. Gain for performing multiple prototype cycles for
are usually made with the antenna an AUT can be determined by comparing enhanced performance. n


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3. Phased-array antennas are formed of many separate antenna elements, which

are switched in phase and amplitude to form directional beams of EM radiation.
(Courtesy of bing.com)

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Satellite Signal

Anritsu Remote Spectrum Monitors

Just like being there... only better.
Spectrum monitoring is critical to your operation. You need a solution that provides
continuous monitoring, whether you are using it for radio surveillance, interference
detection, interference geo-location or government spectrum policy enforcement.

Indoors or out, we have solutions that allow you to simultaneously monitor multiple
locations in real time, set thresholds to automatically trigger alerts and maintain a history
of spectral activity, all of which allow you to identify patterns of interference that would
otherwise go undetected.

Factor in our capability for remote power cycling and remote firmware updating and you
have a high-performance solution that you can depend on for continual monitoring.

Find out more at: www.anritsu.com

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