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Activity title

Multifunction RF Systems

Activity Reference

SET-285

Panel

Sensors & Electronics Technology

Security Classification

NATO UNCLASSIFIED

Status

Proposed

Activity type

RTG

Start date

2020

End date

2023

Keywords

active electronically steered arrays, communications, electronic attack, electronic support, radar

Background

Modern military platforms, such as land-based systems, aircraft and navy warfighters, require increasingly higher levels of capability in the RF systems that provide radar, communications, electronic attack (EA) and electronic support (ES) functions. The result has been a proliferation of antennas and associated hardware on these platforms. The notion of multifunction RF (MFRF) systems has drawn considerable interest as an approach to reversing this trend. In an MFRF system, RF functions are consolidated within a shared set of electronics and antenna apertures that utilize active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology, as shown in Figure 1. This is a relatively new area of research, and an investigation of the benefits and drawbacks of MFRF Systems remains to be carried out. The purpose of this RTG is to quantify the benefits of MFRF systems for the operational community.

Objectives

The proposed RTG will undertake research in the area of MFRF systems. The overall objective is to determine the benefits, drawbacks, and cost of MFRF systems compared to separate radar, ES, EA, and communications systems. This RTG will focus on theoretical studies, modelling and simulation, and will propose experimental trials to be conducted under a follow-on RTG. The scientific objectives of this activity are as follows: 1. Determine the feasibility of multi-octave, polarization-diverse apertures within the 100 MHz to 40 GHz frequency band. 2. Determine the feasibility of MFRF arrays under realistic size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) constraints for aircraft, shipborne platforms, and land-based platforms. 3. Understand the implications of conformal versus planar arrays for MFRF sensors. 4. Understand the challenges and tradeoffs of Resource Allocation Management for MFRF systems. 5. Evaluate the benefits and challenges of STAR operation. 6. Understand the benefits and cost of full element-level digitization, sub-array digitization and multibeam configurations, especially for radar.

Topics

For each previously stated scientific objective, the following scientific topics will be covered. Scientific Objective 1: Determine the feasibility of multi-octave, polarization-diverse apertures within the 1 to 40 GHz frequency band. Investigate the following: a. Antenna architecture, including element spacing, grating lobes, scan blindness, phase centers. b. Antenna element design, including wideband elements as well as meta-surface based antenna elements. c. Multi-octave transmit-receive unit (TRU) design including transceiver. d. Data handling architectures, including beamforming, true time delay, instantaneous broadband waveforms, and frequency dispersion. e. ES techniques for MFRF, including whole aperture, number of single elements, and multibeam. Quantify implications of these techniques for RAM. f. EA techniques for MFRF, including a decrease in the number of transmit elements to control radiated power for deception jamming. Quantify implications of these techniques for RAM. Scientific Objective 2: Determine the feasibility of MFRF arrays under realistic size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) constraints for aircraft, shipborne platforms, and land-based platforms. g. Determine which RF functions can be integrated on the platform. h. Determine the maximum size of all antennas. i. Investigate sensor coverage and its dependence on the location of sensors on the platform. Scientific Objective 3: Understand the implications of conformal versus planar arrays for MFRF sensors. j. Compare mutual coupling and polarization characterization. k. Characterize beamforming for conformal arrays. Scientific Objective 4: Understand the challenges and tradeoffs of RAM for MFRF systems. l. Determine MFRF system design for a single MFRF aperture m. Determine MFRF system design for multiple MFRF apertures on a single platform, and specify which RF functions are included in each aperture. n. Specify measures of effectiveness and measures of performance. Study operational online monitoring of performance. o. Formulate and develop joint radar-communications waveforms. p. Compare centralized RAM and collaborative RAM, where collaborative RAM retains the resource managers of individual RF functions. q. Develop techniques for management of the array aperture, including the use of the full array compared to the use of sub-arrays. Scientific Objective 5: Evaluate the benefits and challenges of STAR operation. r. Evaluate and assess the benefit of carrying out ES and EA simultaneously with radar. s. Evaluate the challenges, including RF blockage and digitizer blockage. Scientific Objective 6: Understand the benefits and cost of full element-level digitization, sub-array digitization and multibeam configurations, especially for radar. t. Identify candidate architectures for full element-level digitization, sub-array digitization and multibeam configurations. u. Conduct a trade study and assess performance of the three architectures.

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