JED - May 2013 - 15

t he

monitor
news

DARPA DRIVES TOWARD LOWER COST/RAPIDLY-DEVELOPED PHASED ARRAYS
common building block (module) for arrays, a reconfigurable electromagnetic
interface, and over-the-air coherent array aggregation.
Chappell says success within technical areas one and two would lead to a
significant reduction in program costs,
“namely the 30 to 40 percent nonrecurring engineering costs these programs
average. We’ll also save time, allowing

ASEA technology has many applications in radar, communications and EW. (US Navy photo).
radar
EW
photo)

with billions of dollars in cost savings.
“Current DOD array development programs can take more than a decade and
cost tens of billions of dollars,” explains
Bill Chappell, ACT program manager.
“That’s because these programs start
from zero, from a clean slate, every time
and work toward an endpoint as specific
as a radar system for a single class of
warship. We want to give those efforts
a common foundation... a configurable
system that would serve as a starting
point for any new array program.”
The ACT program is divided into
three technical development areas: a

DOD to field effective new systems and
readily refresh systems already in the
field. Because of the rapid evolution
of electronics, cost and time translate
directly to performance, so not only do
we hope to make arrays significantly
cheaper at a faster time scale, we believe
that this will, in turn, allow for much
greater performance.”
To reach their goal, Chappell says
ACT will be exploring methods to determine “the right line of commonality to
incorporate as much of the system into
the common module as possible, while
making the appropriate trade-offs for

flexibility and performance. Broadly
defined, we’re looking to dramatically
reduce the amount of effort required
to get a unique end-state for an array
application. Is it possible to limit the
amount of hand crafted design when
given a unique set of specifications?”
The exact composition of the common
module is a central question of the effort. Chappell says, “Performers will be
tasked to determine how much of the
overall system can be included in the
common building block and to determine
the best way to implement this commonality across platforms and applications.
For example, we expect that the power
amplifier (PA) would be part of the customization outside the common module
because of the unique cooling and power
handling requirements of this aspect –
how much is included with the PA in the
customized portion and how much of the
data conversion chain is within the common module are expected to be different
for each proposal.”
The reconfigurable electromagnetic
(EM) interface portion of the program
will ultimately be a pixilated array of
antenna elements that can be configured in the field for various applicationspecific metrics, such as frequency,
bandwidth, polarization, power level,
scan angle, geometry, beam characteristics (width, scan rate, etc.), number
of elements and other factors. It’s also
expected that this interface can be scalable to larger arrays. Says Chappell,
“Currently, most radiating apertures are
fixed physical structures that were part
of the initial design cycle, therefore, the
design choices made for the aperture remain with the system throughout the
system lifecycle. “
The third technology area is aimed
at reducing the space requirements of
individual array systems by developing
distributed phased arrays that communicate with each other to function as a

The Journal of Electronic Defense | May 2013

DARPA is starting a new program,
Arrays at Commercial Timescales (ACT),
which aims to find a new approach and
to develop new technologies that will
drive down the cost and shorten the development time of phased array systems
used for radar, communications and EW
applications. As its name implies, the
ultimate goal of ACT is to approach commercial product development timescales

15


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JED - May 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - May 2013

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
Letters
The Monitor
The Monitor
The Long Hard Road – EW’s Future in Europe
Technology Survey: Signal Generators
Two Domains Are Better Than One
Preview: AOC 50th Anniversary
EW 101
Book Review
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - May 2013 - cover1
JED - May 2013 - cover2
JED - May 2013 - 3
JED - May 2013 - 4
JED - May 2013 - 5
JED - May 2013 - The View From Here
JED - May 2013 - 7
JED - May 2013 - Conferences Calendar
JED - May 2013 - 9
JED - May 2013 - Courses Calendar
JED - May 2013 - 11
JED - May 2013 - From the President
JED - May 2013 - 13
JED - May 2013 - Letters
JED - May 2013 - The Monitor
JED - May 2013 - 16
JED - May 2013 - 17
JED - May 2013 - 18
JED - May 2013 - 19
JED - May 2013 - 20
JED - May 2013 - 21
JED - May 2013 - 22
JED - May 2013 - 23
JED - May 2013 - 24
JED - May 2013 - 25
JED - May 2013 - The Monitor
JED - May 2013 - 27
JED - May 2013 - The Long Hard Road – EW’s Future in Europe
JED - May 2013 - 29
JED - May 2013 - 30
JED - May 2013 - 31
JED - May 2013 - 32
JED - May 2013 - 33
JED - May 2013 - 34
JED - May 2013 - 35
JED - May 2013 - 36
JED - May 2013 - 37
JED - May 2013 - 38
JED - May 2013 - 39
JED - May 2013 - 40
JED - May 2013 - Technology Survey: Signal Generators
JED - May 2013 - 42
JED - May 2013 - 43
JED - May 2013 - 44
JED - May 2013 - 45
JED - May 2013 - 46
JED - May 2013 - 47
JED - May 2013 - Two Domains Are Better Than One
JED - May 2013 - 49
JED - May 2013 - 50
JED - May 2013 - 51
JED - May 2013 - Preview: AOC 50th Anniversary
JED - May 2013 - 53
JED - May 2013 - 54
JED - May 2013 - EW 101
JED - May 2013 - 56
JED - May 2013 - 57
JED - May 2013 - 58
JED - May 2013 - Book Review
JED - May 2013 - 60
JED - May 2013 - AOC News
JED - May 2013 - 62
JED - May 2013 - 63
JED - May 2013 - 64
JED - May 2013 - Index of Advertisers
JED - May 2013 - JED Quick Look
JED - May 2013 - cover3
JED - May 2013 - cover4
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