Officials of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, N.J., announced a $14 million contract to North Star last week to design and build a SWaP-optimized replacement 1,000-Watt Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) high-power amplifier for the E-2D Link-16 datalink and associated capabilities.
The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is a twin-engine turboprop has a large saucer-like radar antenna to detect hostile aircraft and missiles at extremely long ranges at sea, and to and vector Navy aircraft to intercept.
North Star Scientific specializes in military RF and microwave communications and radar equipment for military systems like the E-2C Hawkeye and P-3 Orion aircraft, the Navy littoral combat ship, and unmanned systems for air and sea.
The company builds high-performance electronics for land-based, ship-based, and airborne military applications, including RF systems designs and rapid-turnaround research and custom solutions.
JTIDS is an L band distributed time division multiple access (DTDMA) network radio for data communications. It produces a spread spectrum signal using frequency-shift keying (FSK) and phase-shift keying (PSK) to spread the radiated power over a wide range of radio frequencies to reduce its susceptibility to noise, jamming, and enemy interception. Data Link Solutions, a joint BAE Systems and Rockwell Collins company, handles design, manufacturing, and sustainment of JTIDS.
On this contract North Star Scientific engineers will draw on technologies the company developed in a 2006 small-business innovative research (SBIR) program called L-Band Sold State High Power Amplifier for Airborne Platforms, which sought to develop a small, lightweight L-band solid-state power amplifier for aircraft.
In that project North Star experts demonstrated a SWaP-optimized solid-state power amplifier for the JTIDS system that is flight qualified for the E-2D aircraft. The new power amplifier will replace an old vacuum tube-based power amplifier Navy experts described as having "massive size and weight."
In the SBIR program, North Star engineers designed a JTIDS power amplifier to save more than half the weight and volume of the old tube-based JTIDS high-power amplifier it replaces, while preserving and enhancing the new amplifier's performance.
The new North Star high-power amplifier is part of an overall thrust to equip the E-2D with communication networking systems to meet the growing demand of exchanging large volumes of information between several different users. Space is limited on the aircraft, so avionics designers need to pay attention to SWaP as much as possible.
Compared with its E-2C predecessor, the latest version of the Hawkeye, the E-2D, has a completely new radar with mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities; glass cockpit; advanced identification friend or foe (IFF) system; new mission computer and tactical workstations; electronic support measures enhancements; an d modernized communications and data link suite.
The plane has true 360-degree radar coverage for all-weather tracking and situational awareness; open-architecture commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS)-based hardware and software; network-enabled capability; and the ability to carry out missions ranging from command and control, missile defense, and border security.
On this contract North Star Scientific will do the work on the new high-power JTIDS high-power amplifier for the E-2D in Kapolei, Hawaii and Carlsbad, Calif., and should be finished in November 2020.
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